Assembly to bring in plastic bag charge by 2011

The National Assembly’s Environment Minister, Jane Davidson, has announced legislation to charge for plastic bags by the time of the next Assembly elections in 2011 following a consultation over the summer. All money collected will be distributed to good causes, with an emphasis on those involved in environmental projects.

Despite the problem of plastic bag pollution now being well known, many shops still seem reluctant to take initiative on their own, even though some of those doing so have seen a 90% reduction in bags used. Pontypridd was a rare exception when last year it became the first plastic bag-free town in Wales but still an astonishing 13 billion plastic bags are given to shoppers in the UK each year and these can take up to 1000 years to break down.

Ceredigion’s Assembly Member Elin Jones said today,
“I know that businesses in some Ceredigion communities such as Cardigan have been working together to introduce local ‘bags for life’. “However, even though good progress has been made over recent years to decrease the number of single-use plastic bags handed out every day in Wales, it’s increasingly evident that a mandatory charge must be introduced in order to lower our use of plastic bags even further."

Some things can't be left to the market. Voluntary schemes amongst major retailers have produced only modest results so actual legislation at the Wales level is probably the most effective way to make a substantial difference. Well done Jane.