Scotland is joining Wales and Northern Ireland in charging shoppers for carrier bags , in an attempt to encourage sustainable behaviour among shoppers. Last year, shoppers at Scotland’s main supermarket chains alone used 800m single-use bags, most of which end up as litter, landfill or polluting the country’s marine and natural environments.
The minimum 5p charge applies to all bags, whether plastic, paper or biodegradable, and covers all retailers. Evidence from Wales and Northern Ireland suggests that usage is likely to be cut by about 70%.
The Scottish environment secretary, Richard Lochhead, said: “Our carrier bag addiction is symptomatic of our throwaway culture and has serious implications for the environment.
“Huge numbers of these bags end up as litter, blighting our communities and clogging up our seas and natural habitats, affecting many sorts of wildlife and marine species in particular.”
Although proceeds from the charge belong to the retailer, Zero Waste Scotland, which is piloting the scheme, is encouraging shops to sign up to a voluntary agreement to donate the extra money to good causes in Scotland, particularly ones that benefit the environment.