A new law has been introduced in Wales where every shopper will be forced to pay 5p for single use carrier bags.
The new law in Wales makes them the first country in the UK to introduce the charge on bags but it’s hoped that it will cut down on the amount of bags ending up at landfill each year.
Big high street stores and even small corner shops must comply with the new law if they don’t then they could face fines of up to £5000. However if shops don’t comply in the first three months while they get used to the new law it’s unlikely they will be fined.
A recent survey carried out in Wales found that 70% of 600 shoppers supported the new charge. However a large number thought the new charge was simply to give more revenue to the government. This is not the case as the government has stated that the extra money raised will go to charities and environmental groups.
It’s been reported that some small traders are quite confused about the levy as they’re not sure whether the 5p will just be on plastic bags or paper bags as well. Wales is quite unique in the new law as they are extending the charge to paper bags too. Some traders are not even aware of the new law or how it will be enforced.
From the 1st October 2011 all businesses in Wales will have to comply with the new law, any businesses with over 10 employees will have to keep a record of how many bags are sold and the amounts.
Some stall holders in Machynlleth, Wales which is already an environmentally aware town said that the new charge is a great idea. Many are already providing recycled or re-usable bags to their customers. However David Thorne of the local butchers in town said he already has to double bags his goods to stop blood going everywhere, he said it would not be fair to charge his customer twice so would knock off the levy against the goods bought. David thinks that the government are targeting the poor again in hard economic times.
Most Spar stores in Wales have already been charging 2p for carrier bags which has been donated to charities. The manger of the Spar in Machynlleth said “I doubt people will like paying the 5p but in the end they will get used to it.” He added “I think it’s good we are doing things like this to help the environment but it will be an interesting few months.”
In 2009 it was estimated that Welsh shoppers took home 350 million bags which works out a huge 273 bags per household. The first minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones said that single use carrier bags are a “blight on our landscape.” He also said that every year the government spends £1 million clearing them up. Its expected that the new charge will reduce the amount of bags being used in Wales by 90%.