Conservation charities have called on the Scottish Government to double the mandatory charge for a single use carrier bag to 10p - following in the footsteps of the UK Government.
Earlier this week, Westminster revealed a consultation into plans to extend the plastic bag charge to all retailers and increase the charge to 10p. South of the border, the 5p charge currently applies only to big businesses, unlike in Scotland, where all shops are bound to charge.
The 5p single use bag tax, which encourages retailers to donate the proceeds of plastic bag sales to good causes, was introduced in Scotland in 2014 in a bid to stamp out the widespread use of the items.
Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The charge has been very successful in Scotland, we have seen carrier bag reduction of 85 to 90 per cent. However, we have had the scheme for some time and it has done a lot of good, but there are still people who would move further if the charge was doubled to 10p.
“It would not affect very many people, as a lot of people already bring their own bags almost every time they shop, but it might just encourage a few more to change their behaviour.”
Calum Duncan, head of conservation Scotland at the Marine Conservation Society, said that increasing the charge could discourage more people from buying throwaway bags, which can be eaten by wildlife and often wash up on beaches after being dumped in the sea.
He said: “We welcome this increased charge and would welcome it happening in Scotland as well, provided it does what we would hope it would do, which is to further discourage people using single use bags for taking their shopping home.”
A report published last week by the Scottish Retail Consortium revealed that charity donations from retailers fell as a direct result of a drop in the number of plastic bags sold.
The study said the fall was primarily a result of changes in the use of single use carrier bags – which have to cost 5p by law. With many retailers no longer selling single use bags – instead opting for 10p reusable bags as standard – along with the significant reduction in single bag use, carrier bag sales donation figures fell by £3.8m.
Mr Duncan said: “It is not about trying to generate revenue from plastic bag sales. The ideal would be that we would have no revenue coming in from these bags, because no-one would need to buy them.”
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government established an expert panel to consider the future of all single use plastics. It has also outlawed the manufacture and sale of plastic cotton buds, which is one of the most prevalent items found washed up on Scotland’s beaches.
The Scottish Government has not yet responded to a request for comment.