Environment minister John Griffiths has paid tribute to retailers in Wales for their help in implementing the plastic bag charge.

As a result of the charge, which came into force on October 1, shoppers across Wales pay 5p for every new single use carrier bag handed out. 

“I am delighted that people across Wales have adapted so well to the introduction of the bag charge,” said Griffiths. "Anecdotal evidence from major retailers suggests that the charge has already dramatically reduced bag use in Wales, and that more and more shoppers are using their own bags for shopping. This is exactly the outcome we want.

“Retailers, both large and small, have played a massive part in making the charge a success so far and I would like to thank them for the on-going work in ensuring the charge works and that their customers understand it.”

The Welsh government estimates that the charge will reduce bag use in Wales by up to 90%. The first figures on carrier bag use following the introduction of the charge are expected in May 2012.

The Minister said that there had been a few minor teething problems, and that there had been a small number of complaints about retailers that were not applying the bag charge.

“It was appreciated that the majority of these were honest mistakes and this was exactly why the Welsh government had agreed a three month bedding in period so that everyone could get used to the charge,” added Griffiths.

However the Minister did stress that any retailers who were persistently and deliberately failing to apply the charge would be penalised. Once the three month bedding in period has finished, the maximum fine for failing to charge for plastic bags is £5,000.