A leading Welsh retailer, who has saved thousands of pounds and seen plastic bag usage plummet in his stores since a 5p levy was introduced in 2011, has urged his English counterparts to campaign for similar legislation.
Conrad Davies, who owns four Spar stores in North West Wales, said plastic bag consumption had dropped from about 7,000 to less than 1,000 in one shop, saving him about £15,000 a year.
His experience chimes with official statistics from Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Programme) showing that plastic bag usage fell by 76% in Welsh supermarkets last year.
“I’m shocked that England hasn’t followed suit,” he told C-Store. “It’s saving us a fortune and has enabled us to do more charity work with the proceeds of the levy. We give the money to a local youth centre on the condition that they spend it on an environmental project.”
He said there had been no problems rolling the scheme out as it had been so well publicised. “Why haven’t more retailers in England pushed for it? It’s a win win for us,” he added.
The Associtation of Convenience Stores has also reported “overwhelmingly positive” feedback on the levy from Welsh retailers.
Plastic bag usage in England rose by 4.4% to more than seven billion in 2012, according to the Wrap figures.
In Scotland the figure rose by 1.1% to 750 million, but a 5p levy will come into force next year. Scottish retailers will also be able to donate the proceeds to charities of their choice.
But retailers in Northern Ireland have been reminded to make their carrier bag levy returns to the Department of the Environment. Retailers must declare the number of single use bags they have issued since the 5p levy came in to force in April, and make the related payment.