Scottish retailers may be forced to charge for plastic bags as the government attempts to reduce the number handed out. 

The Scottish government is to carry out a consultation this autumn on ways to lower plastic bag use. According to the latest WRAP survey, Scottish shoppers used 590 million bags in 2010, an average of 9.4 per person. This is an increase of 9% compared to the number used between June 2009 and May 2010. 

Environment secretary Richard Lochhead said legislation may be required to cut the number of bags used. “Plastic bags are a scourge on the environment and a blight on our streets, our countryside and our seas,” he said. “We want Scotland to become a zero-waste society. Our consultation will look at options for cutting plastic bag use even further and we will consider legislating on this issue if need be.”

From October, stores in Wales will have to charge 5p per bag, while the Northern Ireland Assembly has proposed a 8p charge to be introduced in April 2013.

Boris Johnson has also recently called for a plastic bag ban in London in order to help clean up the city in time for the 2012 Olympics while recycling minister Lord Henley said that English retailers would need to cut down usage or face legislation.