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Guest blog: Charges for single-use bags have arrived

By Sarah Philpott

Change has come to Wales in the form of the single-use carrier bag charge and here at Keep Wales Tidy we think that can only be a good thing for our country and our communities.

From 1 October, all retailers in Wales will have to charge a five pence levy on single-use plastic bags which will then be donated to good causes. As well as being unsightly, plastic (and paper bags) end up in fields, rivers and waterways and are dangerous to animals and young children.

Single-use bags are often found during Keep Wales Tidy volunteer litter-picks

A single bag can take up to a thousand years to disintegrate so it’s a problem that won’t go away.

Not only that: it costs Welsh local authorities an estimated £1million to clean up plastic bag litter every year and 86% of single use carrier bags end-up in landfill. Research shows that British consumers use between three and ten single-use bags a week.

In Ireland, where the charge was introduced in 2002, single-use carrier bag consumption has gone down by a massive 90%. Shoppers there were supportive of the charge and chose to re-use single-use bags rather than buying additional ones.

In Wales the five pence levy will benefit good causes and we hope that Welsh retailers will choose to help Keep Wales Tidy work towards a beautiful Wales that can be cared and enjoyed by all.

Any money donated to us will go towards our projects which work towards achieving a beautiful Wales that can be cared for and enjoyed by all. This includes working with volunteers who take part in clean-ups, teaching children to be environmentally responsible and monitoring the amount of litter found on our streets.

If it really bothers you that you will be charged for bags when you’re shopping, why not invest in a cotton shopper? These are widely available (in fact, they often come free with glossy magazines), inexpensive and easy to carry around with you. So whether you’ve already met the charge or planning your weekly shop right now – remember to take your re-usable bags with you!

While it might take a while for you to get used to the charge the benefits to the Welsh environment are obvious. Remember that it’s our Wales and only we can look after it so let’s do what we can to make a difference.

  • Keep Wales Tidy is one of Wales’s leading community-based environmental charities in operation since 1972. For more information on how we can help each other to keep Wales beautiful please visit www.keepwalestidy.org

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