Plans to charge people for plastic bags in supermarkets in Scotland are to be relaunched, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has confirmed.
A public consultation is set to be launched by the Scottish Government in the next few weeks on proposals to set a levy on carrier bags – in a bid to reduce the huge number of non-biodegradable bags thrown away each year.
In an interview with Holyrood, the SNP minister confirmed people would be asked their views, but said it had not been decided what level of charge there could be on bags which are used for shopping.
It is part of a raft of measures being put in place to change behaviour as the country moves towards its target of zero waste.
The money would be used to fund environmental measures.
Lochhead said: “The imposition of a levy, phasing out free plastic bags in any case, is one way we can help change consumer behaviour “Hopefully that changing behaviour will then translate into other areas of life because people start thinking ‘why is it that we’re getting rid of single-use free plastic bags?’ and start thinking about how they live their lives and the way they use resources.
“The throw-away society they’ve enjoyed up until now will become more alien and unacceptable.” An attempt to introduce a levy was thrown out in the previous parliament, where former Lib Dem Mike Pringle lodged a member’s bill for a 10p charge. Similar plans were introduced in Wales last October where the charge is 5p, with some supermarkets reporting a fall of 90 per cent in the number of bags taken away. According to UK Government figures, about 590 million single-use bags were used in Scotland during 2010.
Some shops, such as the Co-op, already charge shoppers in Scotland an extra 2p for bags and Lochhead said it was now time to take more action.
He said: “We’ve made great progress in the last two or three years, there’s about half the free use plastic bags in the supermarkets as there were before.
“We’ve already got some retail chains that don’t produce free single-use bags, when I got to the supermarket these days, a great number of folk in queues have reusable bags, so the message is getting through – but now it’s time for a change of mindset.”