Risk 5p plastic bag charge “will be watered down”

MPs today warned that letting small shop owners not use a 5p charge on plastic bags risks “diluting” plans to stamp out litter, waste and carbon emissions. The Queen’s speech […]

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By Vicky Ellis

MPs today warned that letting small shop owners not use a 5p charge on plastic bags risks “diluting” plans to stamp out litter, waste and carbon emissions.

The Queen’s speech confirmed a 5p charge on disposable bags will start from October 2015 in England, after a successful similar scheme in Wales. Scotland starts one in October.

Unlike these, the English plan won’t be a blanket 5p charge, smaller retailers are exempted.

Joan Walley MP, Chair of parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee said: “The decision to only include large retailers is particularly short-sighted and ignores calls from all of the main small retailer organisations to be included in the scheme.”

The Committee found an exemption was not supported by the Association of Convenience Stores, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents or the British Retail Consortium.

Ms Walley added: “The Government should think again… [It] should tell us which trade bodies are against, so that we can see exactly what the evidence says for ourselves.”

MPs were however pleased the Government is not continuing plans to exempt a charge for ‘biodegradable plastic bags’ because of the “contamination” risk this would pose for the UK’s recycling industry.