Published on March 3, 2014 | by Fayrouz Essack


Do you ever feel like (paying for) a plastic bag?

Many of us are guilty of it. We’ll go out to do our weekly shop – or even just pop out to get bread and milk – and we’ll then be asked by the shop assistant: “Would you like a bag?” Soon many of us could be answering “no” if new legislation goes ahead to make large retailers charge customers 5p for plastic bags.

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Paying for your plastic – a good idea?

Shoppers in Wales and Northern Ireland already pay for their plastic – and it could be happening pretty soon in Scotland. But what’s holding us back in England is some MPs who say the proposals are ‘too complicated’ and a ‘complete mess’. That’s because the charges won’t apply to all carrier bags – OR all retailers. So here’s the test for whether you’ll be charged – according to the current plans:

5p or free?

– The charges will apply to plastic bags

– Biodegradable bags will be free

– Paper bags will also cost nothing

– Larger retailers will have to charge for bags

– BUT it wouldn’t be compulsory for smaller shops

Leader of the Environmental Audit Committee Joan Walley thinks the plans need to be simplified. Manager of an M&S Simply Food shop Tom told us they give away the littlest bags for free – ‘perfect to fit your lunch in’ – but customers aren’t happy when they have to pay 5p for a larger one. He said if they had to charge for all bags he’d be likely to get lots of complaints.

On Twitter there’ve been mixed views on the matter:

We’ll have to wait and see whether the 5p charge will happen in England.

Here’s my piece on the proposals:

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