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Plastic bag charge worth £90 million to Scottish economy

Charging shoppers for single-use bags in Scotland could generate £90 million for the economy, a report by the Scottish Government says. 

Some larger stores already charge for carrier bags but, from October 2014, all retailers will have to charge a minimum of 5p per bag in a bid to phase out their use.

Scottish shoppers used 750 million carrier bags in 2012 - equating to 12 bags per month per shopper, the highest rate of usage per person in the UK.

According to the report, the initial 5p charge would cost consumers around £14 million per year. The one-off cost to retailers is estimated to be around £1.7 million.

A current consultation into the charge is debating whether it should be introduced as a tax or if retailers should be expected to donate net proceeds to charities and environmental groups.

Business groups argue that the move will add additional regulatory burdens for small businesses.

Commenting on the Scottish Government's decision to introduce a compulsory levy - as opposed to a voluntary charge - on the use of carrier bags, CBI Scotland's policy executive Laura McMahon said:

"Retailers have delivered significant reductions in the use of carrier bags over recent years, which is why we argued in our response to last year's official consultation for a continuation of the voluntary approach."

"Now that the Scottish Government has opted to introduce a compulsory levy, it is important that they follow through on promises to minimise the burden of administering the levy, and provide sufficient advice and guidance to retail businesses to help them comply with the regulations."