5p bag dodge prompts supermarket to tag baskets

The Asda store in Dundee has tagged its baskets. Picture: Alan Richardson

The Asda store in Dundee has tagged its baskets. Picture: Alan Richardson

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A SCOTTISH supermarket has been forced to attach electronic security tags to baskets as tight-fisted shoppers refuse to stump up the new 5p charge for a ­carrier bag.

Bosses at the Asda store at Milton of Craigie in Dundee revealed a “large number” of shopping baskets have been snatched since the Scottish Government introduced the bag fee last month.

An Asda spokeswoman said yesterday: “Sadly, since the introduction of the carrier bag charge we have lost a large number of baskets. We have reluctantly ­introduced security tags to ­ensure all our customers can carry out their shopping without disruption.”

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Other supermarkets in the city, including Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s, have said they had no plans to electronically tag their baskets.

Shoppers are being advised that if they take a basket from the premises and fail to return it, they could be charged with theft.

Zero Waste Scotland, which has played a key role in the scheme, slammed the actions of the basket thieves, saying their was “no excuse” for them.

A spokesman said: “Avoiding the bag charge is no excuse for criminal and irresponsible ­behaviour. The best way to avoid the charge is by remembering to bring a reusable bag to the shops, like thousands of Scots already do.”

Asda shoppers are not the only ones refusing to pay the 5p charge in the city.

Last week it was revealed that Tesco in Dundee had to order ­almost 100 additional baskets due to light-fingered shoppers.

In 2012, after the introduction of the levy in Wales, a Tesco ­supermarket in ­Denbighshire had 500 of its shopping baskets stolen, leaving just 16.

Shoppers even took to selling them for £25 each on ­auction website eBay.

The 5p charge for one-use ­carrier bags in Scotland came into effect earlier this month and affects not just plastic bags but single-use ones made of paper or plant-based materials.

It is hoped that the move will see carrier bag use drop by as much as 70 per cent. All food and non-food ­retailers have to implement the charge, following the lead of Wales (October 2011) and Northern Ireland (April 2013).

Circumstances in which the new charge does not apply ­include any bag containing only medicine, or those used to ­contain “live aquatic creatures in water”.

There is also no charge for a bag containing a product bought “on board a ship, train, aircraft, coach or bus”.

Scottish environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Our carrier bag addiction is symptomatic of our throwaway culture and has serious implications for the environment.

“Huge numbers of these bags end up as litter, blighting our communities and clogging up our seas and natural habitats, affecting many sorts of wildlife and marine species in particular.

“We want that to change and for people to stop and think about whether they really need to take another bag.”

Many retailers in Scotland have said that they will donate the proceeds of the charge to charity, though there is no legal requirement to do so.

England will bring in a 5p bag charge from October next year.

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