Public support for plastic bag charge increases

it’s great news that plastic bag usage has slumped by around 80% – the UK’s largest retailer Tesco said in December that the number of bags had been slashed by 78% since the 5p charge was introduced, while at Morrisons, plastic bag consumption was down 80% across its stores. The Government is now collecting full usage statistics so the full picture should be clear soon.

Meanwhile, a poll partly-commissioned by CPRE has revealed increased public support for the bag charge in England [1]. The poll for the Break the Bag Habit (BTBH) coalition found that 70% of English respondents now find it reasonable to charge 5p for all carrier bags – an 8% increase in support in the eight months since the English charge came into force [2]. The increase was particularly marked amongst younger people, where support has jumped 10% [3].

plastic bag cpre

Despite this encouraging news, the poll indicated that more people find the current charge confusing than not. The charge, introduced on 5 October 2015, does not apply to businesses of fewer than 250 employees, paper bags or franchises such as Subway. Answering the ICM survey, 42% of respondents found it confusing that only some shops charged for bags.

Samantha Harding, http://alwaysvaltrexonline.com spokesperson for the Break the Bag Habit coalition, said:

“People are clearly confused by the current scope of the charge. A universal scheme that applies to all bags and all retailers will eliminate confusion, boost public support, and most importantly reduce bag usage and litter.

“With a frankly ridiculous £1 billion litter bill, England is lagging behind the other home nations. Now that the scheme has been successfully launched, the Government should review the exemptions and introduce a universal charge.”

Photo: Earth Policy Institute

Photo: Earth Policy Institute

[1] The 2016 poll was conducted by ICM on 11th of May 2016. ICM interviewed a random sample of 2000 GB adults, including 1742 in England, aged 18+ online. The results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information is available at www.icmresearch.co.uk.

[2] The Break the Bag Habit coalition consists of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Greener Upon Thames, Keep Britain Tidy, Surfers Against Sewage and Thames21. The coalition has long worked towards the introduction of a carrier bag charge scheme in England.

[3] Survey respondents aged 18-24.

June 7th 2016

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