Scottish plastic bag tax to be raised to 10p

The minimum cost of carrier bags in Scotland is set to rise to 10p from April 1.

The carrier bag charge will be a minimum of 10p as of April.
The carrier bag charge will be a minimum of 10p as of April.

Announcing the move, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said it was important to increase the charge periodically to ensure it deters people from buying bags instead of utilising reusable options.

The 5p charge was introduced in 2014, with plastic bag usage dropping by 80% by the following year.

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The Marine Conservation Society also noted the number of bags found on beaches dropped by 40% each year for the two years after the charge was introduced – reaching 42% between 2018 and 2019.

Ms Cunningham said: “Thanks to the people of Scotland, the introduction of the charge has been successful in reducing the amount of single-use carrier bags in circulation. It has also made us think about the small steps we can all take to help the environment.

“While the 5p bag charge was suitable when it was first introduced, it is important that pricing is updated to ensure that the charge continues to be a factor in making people think twice about using a single-use carrier bag.”

Some retailers have pledged to donate their carrier bag charges to good causes, with £2.5 million raised in 2019.

Keep Scotland Beautiful chief executive Barry Fisher said: “Fewer single use carrier bags is great news for our environment.

“Since 2014 the single use carrier bag charge has significantly helped reduce the number of bags being given out by retailers – saving thousands of tonnes of single use plastic realising a significant net carbon saving and reducing the chances of these items becoming littered.

“However, there is still an opportunity to challenge individual behaviours and improve consumer awareness which the doubling of the charge will help do.

“We’ve been fortunate to develop positive partnerships with a range of well-known high street retailers, and a number of small individual store owners, who understand their responsibilities in helping to tackle Scotland’s environmental issues.”

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish Government is looking into creating an exemption on the bag charge for certain deliveries and collections, as was the case last year at the onset of the pubic health crisis.