5p carrier bags could add up to a cleaner Scotland

The 5p charge was introduced as part of the Government's drive to reduce levels of litter in Scotland. Picture: Colin Hattersley
The 5p charge was introduced as part of the Government's drive to reduce levels of litter in Scotland. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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More than three months have passed since the Scottish Government introduced the 5p single-use carrier bag charge to all Scottish retailers in October last year.

I hope that by now taking reusable bags to the shop is beginning to become second nature to most people. Indeed, anecdotal reports from supermarket chains noted huge drops of up to 90 per cent in the use of single-use carrier bags in the month following the legislation launch.

The 5p charge was introduced as part of the Government’s ongoing drive to reduce the levels of litter in Scotland. Whilst reducing the number of single-use carrier bags handed out will vastly decrease the number discarded as litter, it is crucial that the public is aware of how retailers are using the proceeds from sales of bags. For this reason, Zero Waste Scotland has launched its Carrier Bag Commitment.

By signing up to the commitment, retailers make a voluntary pledge to donate the proceeds of the carrier bag charge to good causes in Scotland, to announce how the money was used.

Signatories all gain access to Zero Waste Scotland’s reporting portal, which is an easy way of meeting the legal obligation to record data, and giving us an overview of the impact the charge is having.

Over the coming months we will be collecting data from businesses across Scotland and we plan to release the first official figures later this year. Through the Carrier Bag Commitment, shoppers will be given a clear view of exactly how the funds raised through the 5p carrier bag charge are being used.

To date over 250 retailers have registered their interest in the commitment, with signatories including Marks & Spencer, Superdry and Holland & Barrett. I would encourage all retailers, large and small, to sign up and make the most of the information and resources freely available.

Signatories can register for more information at carrierbagcommitment.org.uk and full details of the Carrier Bag Commitment can be found at carrierbagchargescotland.org.uk.

Shoppers can access further information about the single-use carrier bag charge by visiting greenerscotland.org/cleanerscotland/carrier-bags

• Iain Gulland is chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland