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Welsh bag tax to reduce the impact on the environment

A new Welsh carrier bag tax is set to launch in Spring next year.  It is the brainchild of Welsh Environment minister Jane Davidson, and means that from next Spring, all single use carrier bags in Wales may be subject to a 7p levy charged at point of purchase.  The idea was initially raised as a means to reducing the impact on the environment of plastic carrier bags, by encouraging shoppers to carry their own bags with them;

“I have always stated that I do not support the use of one-trip plastic bags,” she said.  “They are not usually bio-degradable and represent a waste of resources. Customers have come to expect free plastic bags at checkouts, but the tide appears to be turning as shoppers look for more environmentally-friendly options. “

Since the plan was first proposed back in 2009, two separate consultations have been held, taking in questions and views from retailers.  Feedback from a second consultation that ended in August is now being reviewed, however so far, it looks like the bag tax will be fairly comprehensive with few notable exceptions; bags for life and bags used for the sale or use of pharmaceuticals, fresh meat and fish.

The levy itself will be administered at point of sale, with the administrative burden placed on retailers to provide evidence of its being charged.  Proceeds are likely to go to charity.  The Carrier Bag Consortium has so far posed a fairly robust argument against the levy, www.carrierbagtax.com stating that research undertaken on the disposal of carriers, and the likely impact of the 7p charge have been overstated, particularly with regard to the impact of a similar tax introduced in Ireland.

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