The Consortium fears the scheme will prove an administrative nightmare for retailers and has doubts about its environmental and social benefits. It is also worried that discouraging the use of plastic bags will only increase the demand for other single use bags. A recently publicised impact assessment into the proposals recognised that paper usage could increase by 8,893 tonnes.
SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: “The assessment offers very little justification for the introduction of a plastic bag tax. The introduction of a levy on carriers will unfairly penalise the innovative steps being made toward the manufacture of bags from recycled plastics or using biodegradable plastics. A tax should be an incentive to encourage markets for recycled plastic carriers instead of penalising alternatives.”
Unlike a similar scheme introduced in the Republic of Ireland where the tax is gathered by central government, local authorities would be in charge of collecting the tax in Scotland. Moriarty added: “There is no denying the plastic bag tax in Ireland has reduced the amount of plastic bag litter across the country. But the Scotland scheme is flawed and we are not convinced it delivers genuine environmental benefits.”
Retailer Wilson Rea, of Rea’s Select in Lanark, Strathclyde told C-Store: “I’m totally against the proposals. Customers won’t be willing to spend 10p on a bag and there could be a backlash. Nobody, including the large supermarkets, would be able to give a 10p bag away as they would need to fund the tax. I’m not sure how each local authority is going to deal with it and how the VAT will work. “If our suppliers came to us with another option such as biodegradable bags we would certainly consider it.”