Recent research carried out by Cardiff University and the British Retail Consortium shows that the five pence carrier bag charge, introduced in Wales nine months ago, is both “effective and widely supported” by Welsh citizens.
The Welsh Government introduced the 5p carrier bag ‘tax’ on October 1st 2011, to reduce the amount of single-use carrier bags supplied in Wales, and while the move initially caused outrage amongst local retailers, these new figures indicate that support for the policy has grown.
Food retailers report a “significant reduction” in demand for single-use carrier bags by up to 96%, and behavioural research carried out by Cardiff University found that support for the ‘tax’ increased from 59 per cent to 70 per cent, as the Welsh population agree it is an “effective way of reducing waste and litter.”
The fact that the five pence carrier bag charge goes to local charities, rather than the government, seems to be a key factor, and this latest report shows that most consumers are happy to pay for their carrier bags when they know the money is going towards good causes.
Welsh Environment Minister John Griffiths is said to be ‘delighted’ with the new figures, and released the following statement, “Research and retail figures support what shoppers and retailers have been telling us for some time. The Welsh public have adjusted brilliantly to the Welsh bag charge and the majority now regularly take their own bags with them when they go shopping”. He went on to declare the carrier bag tax policy “the first of its kind in the UK – a success.”
Northern Ireland is set to follow Wales and will introduce the five pence carrier bag charge in April 2013, and as the Scottish government are currently ‘consulting’ on the issue, it looks as though the pressure will soon mount on England to join the plastic waste revolution.