Scotland looks to introduce 5p carrier bag charge

A five pence minimum charge could be introduced for single use carrier bags in Scotland under plans to be launched for consultation this week by the Scottish Government.

The Government said the three month consultation will help to phase out the use of free carrier bags in a bid to safeguard Scotlands resources by cutting waste and encouraging positive environmental behaviour.

The three month consultation looks to phase out the use of free carrier bags
The three month consultation looks to phase out the use of free carrier bags

Plans to consult on the possible introduction of a carrier bag levy were first announced by the Scottish Government in August 2011 which said it would tackle the problem head on (see story).

The consultation will gather the publics views on charging for single use bags. In particular it will cover the following proposals:

  • A requirement for all retailers to charge;
  • Setting the minimum charge at five pence per bag;
  • Including all thin gauge and disposal carrier bags regardless of material.


Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said that introducing a small charge for single use carrier bags would encourage people to reuse them.

He said: Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter. By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter and its impact on our environment and economy. A small charge should also encourage us all to stop and think about what we discard and what can be re-used.

Mr Lochhead added: This initiative will see retailers donating the proceeds to charitable good causes. It is hoped this could be up to 5 million per year after retailers have covered their costs.


The Scottish Government follows in the footsteps of Wales which introduced a five pence charge for single use carrier bags on October 1 2012 (see story). The Government said that early provisional indicators from Wales show reductions in carrier bag use of between 60% and 80% across various supermarket chains.

In Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood has also announced that as of April 2013 a five pence charge will be introduced on single use carrier bags in the country, with the possibility of it rising to ten pence a year later (see story).

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