Huge drop in carrier bag use after 5p tax

Most shoppers are bringing reusable bags rather than pay 5p for carriers. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Most shoppers are bringing reusable bags rather than pay 5p for carriers. Picture: Colin Hattersley
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SHOPPERS are remembering to pack their own bags before heading to the supermarket, major chains have revealed a month after the controversial 5p charge came into force.

Morrisons said it had seen an 80 per cent slide in the number of customers taking plastic carriers for their groceries.

Aldi, which has stores across the Lothians, also confirmed that an “increasing number” of shoppers were bringing their own bags.

New laws launched on October 20 require all retailers across Scotland to charge for bags in a bid to reduce litter and help the environment.

A Morrisons spokesman praised customers for making sure “a real change” had been identified over the last month.

He said: “The response from customers has been to take the charge in their stride, with many customers making use of our reusable bags instead, or bringing their own into store.”

An Aldi spokesman added: “We’re also seeing a decrease in sales of our 5p bag which suggests more customers are choosing to re-use their carrier bags.”

A similar trend has been seen at independent stores, with an environment campaigner at Zero Waste Scotland saying that a total of 250 
retailers had signed up to the Carrier Bag Commitment, which sees the 5p charge donated to a good cause.

Iain Gulland, chief executive at Zero Waste Scotland, said: “All indications are that it has been a success.

“Beforehand, we had excellent engagement with retailers accessing our training, information and communications resources, and since the introduction we’ve had positive feedback from both retailers and shoppers, indicating that people have embraced the reasons behind the charge and are reducing the number of single-use bags.”

Dascora Vita, shop manager at James Borthwick newsagents on Comely Bank, estimated a 70 per cent drop in carrier bag use.

She said: “People come into the shop quite prepared. If they know they are going to buy lots of stuff, they will be ready for it and have a bag. But there are some people who buy two items and still ask for a bag.”

Theresa O’Hara, owner of Ooh Ruby Shoes on Bruntsfield Place, said there had been at least 60 per cent reduction since the charge.

She said: “In the first couple of days people were not prepared and felt that shoes and boots shouldn’t count. But then they discovered the money was going to the Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home. Some people came fully prepared with hessian or recyclable bags.”

Duncan Brash, manager of Tesco Leith, said shoppers had reacted positively “on the whole”.

But there have been reports elsewhere of customers becoming abusive and refusing to pay.

A source at John Lewis said that a woman swore at staff and put her newly purchased cashmere jumper in a bag full of fish rather than pay the levy.