Carrier Bags: Shoppers Support 5p Charge

The majority of people think a 5p charge on single-use carrier bags should be introduced in England to cut litter and waste, a poll has suggested.

Three-quarters of those questioned said they would try to cut down on the use of new plastic bags if there was a small charge for them, according to the Break The Bag Habit coalition of conservation and anti-litter groups.

The poll of 1,752 adults in England found that 56% agreed a 5p charge was not unreasonable even in a time of austerity, as it had been proven to reduce litter and waste.

The latest figures showed the number of carrier bags being given out by supermarkets rose by more than 5% last year across the UK, with customers using almost eight billion carrier bags in 2011.

But in Wales, where a 5p charge was introduced last October, the amount of single-use bags being taken home has fallen significantly.

Northern Ireland is bringing in a charge next year and Scotland is consulting on doing the same.

There are no plans for a mandatory plastic bag charge in England, but 54% of those questioned in the survey agreed that the country should follow the lead of the other parts of the UK and seek to introduce a 5p levy.

Samantha Harding, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England , said: "We have known since Ireland introduced bag charging in 2002 that it cuts litter.

"We also know from Wales that retailers stand to make savings both in checkout times and in their overheads.

"And now we know that the English public would support bag charging, even in difficult economic times.

"So why, in the face of hard evidence, public and retailer support is the Government still stalling on an English bag charge?"

She urged David Cameron and George Osborne to ensure that a charge on plastic bags was included in this year's Autumn Statement on the economy.

Helen Bingham, Keep Britain Tidy 's campaign manager, said: "This research shows that the public are ahead of the Government when it comes to supporting things that are good for the environment.

"It is time for politicians in Westminster to follow the lead of the Welsh Assembly and introduce a charge that will help reduce the amount of litter blighting our streets, parks and beaches."