Sutton’s Liberal Democrat Council - one of the pioneers in green measures - has welcomed the 5p charge by large businesses in the borough for each single-use plastic bag they requested by shoppers.
The change to the law aims to achieve a significant reduction in the use of plastic bags by as much as 80% in supermarkets and 50% in the high street.
The changes affect only large businesses with over 250 employees. Smaller businesses can charge for plastic bags on a voluntary basis.
Retailers are expected to use the proceeds from the sale of plastic bags for good causes. They will need to report to government about what they do with the money, and the information will be published publicly each year.
Shoppers are asked to bring their own bags or containers when shopping. Many stores offer thicker reusable bags which can be returned and replaced for free when they wear out.
Cllr Jill Whitehead, Lib Dem Chair of the Environment & Neighbourhood Committee, said: “It’s time to tackle the problem of single-use plastic bags, which all too often litter our streets and parks.
“The change to the law is our first step toward encouraging shoppers to resist the lure of plastic bags and bring their own containers when they come shopping. This will benefit our environment and our economy in equal measure.“
Estimated benefits over 10 years include:
- An expected overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy.
- Up to £730 million raised for good causes.
- £60 million saved in litter clean-up costs.
- Carbon savings of £13 million.
5p charges for single-use bags are already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Wales saw a reduction in plastic bag consumption of 79% in three years since the charge was introduced.
In 2014, over 7.6 billion plastic bags were given to customers in the UK. That is the equivalent of about 140 bags per person.