The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have united to petition against the London Local Authorities (Shopping Bags) Bill, which proposes fines for shops that give or sell plastic bags to customers and seeks to give enforcement officers the power to enter stores in search of bags.
The two organisations' efforts have so far resulted in a blocking motion, tabled by three MPs, which will require that the Bill proposed by London Councils must return for a second reading before the full House of Commons.
London Councils say that 90% of Londoners in a public consultation exercise wanted to see a reduction in the number of throwaway plastic bags in the city, with 58% favouring a ban rather than a tax levy.
The trade bodies argue that a ban would have a serious impact on customers and retailers, but give almost no environmental benefit, as carrier bags represent a tiny proportion of the waste going to landfill. It would disproportionately affect stores within the ban zone, in particular convenience stores which rely on impulse buys.
They further point out that many retailers have already made a voluntary commitment to reducing the environmental impact of bags with initiatives such as rewards for re-use and recycling.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: "London councils are proposing a measure that would severely harm retailers, especially small stores. We fully support reductions in the use of plastic bags and have made great strides on a voluntary basis. It is a shame that London councils have proceeded at breakneck speed to this unworkable alternative."
BRC's Jane Milne added: "Do councillors really believe Londoners want their money spent on a new army of bag-ban enforcers bursting into shops, demanding documents and searching for secret supplies of bags?"