Defra is to provide training to local authorities to make sure they enforce the carrier bag charging regulations which are expected to come into force on Monday 5 October 2015 in England.
Companies wishing to provide the training to local authority trading standards officers have until tomorrow to submit bids for the work.
The training programme comes as Defra maintains its work on preparations for the charging regime.
Updating its information on the scheme, the Department yesterday (January 7) highlighted the draft Parliamentary Order which will bring the regime into force, assuming the policy is approved by Parliament.
Defra’s guidance on the single use carrier bag charge says: “We will introduce a 5p charge on single-use plastic carrier bags in England in October 2015. There is already a similar 5p charge on single-use bags in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We laid the Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015 in Parliament on 17 December 2014. The Order will be debated in both Houses of Parliament and is subject to Parliamentary approval before the 5p charge comes in on 5 October 2015.”
Crucially, the Department is still pressing ahead with its plan to make only larger retailers, who employ more than 250 people, subject to the rules, even though it admits that the option to cover all retailers (apart from microbusinesses) would have higher net benefits. However, it reasons that “an overriding government priority is avoiding the imposition of regulatory requirements on small businesses”.
An impact assessment, published alongside the draft Parliamentary Order last month, confirms that there are no single-use plastic bags currently available that are genuinely biodegradable and all existing plastic biodegradable bags will be included in the charge.
"Once the development of the new standard is complete an exemption for biodegradable bags will be introduced"
The Department notes: “However, more work is to take place into the potential for using biodegradable bags and exempting them from the charge – some plastics recyclers have warned that biodegradable bags could jeopardise recycling.”
And, in its impact assessment, Defra says: “Since there will always be a need for some single-use carrier bags, Defra is promoting the development of a new standard for biodegradable bags that has fewer environmental impacts across its whole lifecycle, from production to disposal. Once the development of the new standard is complete an exemption for biodegradable bags will be introduced, but this will be covered by a separate impact assessment.”
Based on the results of these studies “we have decided to continue with a further stage of research”, the Department said, adding: “This will be looking at a promising film developed by Aquapak Polymers. This research will cost approximately £200,000 and will aim to develop the film into a prototype biodegradable bag. If this is successful, then Defra will spend approximately £180,000 more to develop ways of separating different types of waste.”
Aquapak is linked to the ADI Ltd group based in King’s Norton, Birmingham.