Plastic carrier bags charge in Scotland doubles from April

The single-use carrier bags are charged at 5p per piece from large and medium retailer since 2014. After the introduction of the single-use bag charge, plastic bag usage dropped by 80% in 2015 (BBC News UK, n.d.). 

The charge was implemented to prevent usage of single-use carrier bags made from all kinds of materials including plastic, paper or plant-based materials (The Government of Scotland, n.d.) The regulation was in place to deter the consumption of single-use bags rather than of plastic bags. It was thought to prevent single-use items including single-use plastic bags while encouraging consumers to reuse their products whenever possible. 


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Figure 1: Extract from the Scottish Government website 


The single-use carrier bags are updated to reflect the changes in consumption pattern and prices over the year. Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham proposed that the increase in the bag charge is to ensure that consumers will have to consider carefully when picking up and disposing of a single-use carrier bag. The carrier bag charges will go to charity according to some retailers. In 2019, donation of 2.5 million pounds was raised for good causes. The charge is supposed to save the environment while helping good causes at the same time. 

Before the introduction of the charge in 2014, Scottish were picked up and disposed of 800 million units every year. In the second year of the ban, this number reduced by 80%. According to the Marine Conservation Society, in 2016, two years after the ban, the number of plastic carrier bags found on Scottish beaches reduced by 40% for 2 consecutive years. The reduction between 2018 and 2019 was even more at 42%.