Charge for plastic bags positive

London Councils welcomes news that a mandatory 5p charge will be introduced

  • By Jim Ranger

London Councils welcomes news that a mandatory 5p charge will be introduced for single-use plastic carrier bags from 5 October this year after plans were given the final go ahead by Parliament.

London Councils, which represents all 32 London Boroughs and the City of London, was active in kick-starting the process with its London Local Authorities (Shopping Bags) Bill in November 2007, supported at the time by the Mayor of London. 

The bill advocated introducing a charge for reusable carrier bags in London and, although it was not passed, is seen as a catalyst for subsequent legislation, culminating in The Lords with final approval for the ‘Single Use Carrier Bags Charges (England) Order 2015’.

The overall number of bags used by supermarkets has declined over the last decade following new guidance and initiatives from the supermarkets, including in-store recycling, but the number issued in 2013 totalled 8.8 billion, up from 8.5 billion in 2012.

Cllr Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee (TEC), said:

“This is a fair charge designed to make all of us think twice about the number of bags we use and what we do with them when they’re empty. I’m very proud that London boroughs had a central role in getting us to where we are today.

“Government figures show that carrier bags cost taxpayers in England about £10 million every year to clean up, and the environmental impact in London can be seen in our parks and streets. The supermarkets have taken steps to address this problem, but the quantity of bags being issued by the major stores is still far too high.

“Progress has been made to reduce the number and weight of single-use plastic bags in recent years but this now clears the way for the small charge to take effect that London Councils has been advocating for almost a decade.”