Plastic Bag Charge A 'Complete Mess', Warn MPs
A group of MPs has described the Government plan to introduce a 5p charge for plastic bags In England as a "complete mess".
The Coalition hopes that introducing a levy on carrier bags next year will reduce the number of people using them, helping prevent littering and damage to the environment in the process.
But the scheme will apply only to major supermarkets and retailers while paper or bio-degradable bags will be exempt from the charge.
The Environmental Audit Committee says making exceptions will cause confusion among shoppers.
Chairwoman Joan Walley said: "We think it's a good idea to charge for plastic bags, but if the Government's going to do this it needs to keep it simple.
"We feel what has been proposed is just far too complicated and far too complex - we believe the way forward should be to have no exemptions whatsoever."
Some shops like Marks and Spencer already charge 5p for the use of plastic bags in their food halls, but the new proposals will see other major stores follow.
It will not apply to small independent shops, market stalls or companies with fewer than 250 employees.
Charlie Puddle, who runs a fruit stall in West London, says he would welcome the charge.
He said: "We never see one bag (brought) back, and it costs us a lot of money - it take a big bit out of the profit every day."
A scheme to make people pay for their carrier bags has already worked in Wales where the number handed out has dropped by three quarters, while Northern Ireland has seen a reduction of 80%.
Green campaigners say that they have seen a positive environmental impact as a result.
Friends of the Earth's Michael Warhurst said: "A carrier bag tax is a positive measure but it's important to tax disposable paper bags as well, and you also have to be very cautious about the whole idea of biodegradable bags."
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