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The Scottish National Party (SNP) will begin a three-month consultation on Wednesday 27th June, to “seek to phase out free plastic bags in supermarkets”, and follow in the footsteps of Wales and Northern Ireland by adding a 5p carrier bag tax on all single use plastic bags.

The move could see England as the only country in the United Kingdom to hand out free shopping bags in 2013, but with pressure from the Environmental Secretary to introduce a bag tax, and the Prime Minister warning supermarkets to “do better”, it looks as though the Treasury will have much to consider in the coming months.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is examining a range of ideas, including an outright carrier bag ban, such as that introduced in Italy, but the Treasury oppose the idea over fears that “the coalition would be attacked for wilfully increasing the cost of a weekly shop during an economic downturn”.

“It is still a battle to fight” claim DEFRA, while the Treasury insist “We don’t rule it out”, and as the Governments and Environmental Agencies battle it out on our behalf, the SNP are taking a different route by asking the Scottish public what they think.

In its aim to become Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish Government will be seeking the public’s views on phasing out free single use carrier bags during the consultation, and will propose a minimum 5p charge for all disposable carrier bags regardless of material, to encourage people to re-use their bags more often.

If introduced, the SNP scheme will see retailers give the proceeds of the carrier bag tax to charities and good causes, which could raise £5million a year. On the announcement of the three-month consultation, Scotland’s Environment Secretary Mr Lochhead said, “Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter” and “by reducing the amount that is carelessly discarded we can cut waste and its impact on our environment and economy”.

As the carrier bag tax saga looks set to continue, we would like to know your views. Should England support a 5p tax on single use carrier bags?

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