Richard Lochhead: Pun slinger

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 April 2015

Richard Lochhead is clearly a man who enjoys a pun. In the past his office has boasted of “fishing for litter” in removing 800 tonnes of litter from the sea, “chipping in” with a move to microchip dogs, and announcing the “hot potato” issue that seed potato exports are doing well.

It makes you wonder how much time the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment spends cooking up these titles.

But the good news is that today is no exception, with the proud tradition continuing with “In the Bag”, marking the success of the 5p carrier bag charge.

Monday will mark six months since the policy was introduced and indicative figures suggest that single-use carrier bag usage has been reduced by more than 80 per cent since the charge came in October. Given that Scotland previously used 800m carrier bags every year, the reduction is significant.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Over the past six months, we’ve seen an incredible change to shopping habits in Scotland. Shoppers have embraced the 5p charge and rapidly reduced their consumption of single-use carrier bags more readily than we ever hoped.

Lochhead said: “I’m delighted that in just six months the carrier bag charge is already making such a big impact in Scotland.

“I very much welcome the dramatic reductions in carrier bag use being reported by these major retailers. It suggests that many consumers are now in the habit of reusing bags, which should reduce the amount of litter that blights our communities and natural environment, and costs a fortune to clean up.

“This primary purpose of this legislation is to clean up our streets and beaches by cutting carrier bag use. But it’s also fantastic that the charge has already raised so much money for worthy causes from just these four retailers alone.”

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