GREEn campaigners have welcomed a new Scottish Government consultation on reducing the use of plastic carrier bags.
The number of single-use bags handed out by supermarkets fell over the past five years but the latest figures have shown a nine per cent increase.
Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment and a blight on our streets, our countryside and our seas. We want to phase out the use of free plastic bags in supermarkets, with the continued help of retailers.”
He said the government would consider legislation “if need be”.
Environmental group WWF Scotland said it hoped the consultation would result in a plastic bag levy, as voluntary initiatives were not enough.
Head of policy Dr Dan Barlow said: “Single-use carrier bags are symbolic of our wasteful attitude to resource use which must be addressed if Scotland’s vision of a zero-waste future is to be realised. Charging for plastic bags has been highly successful in cutting use elsewhere.”