COMMONS

Plastic bags

Inquiry status:  Report published 6 February 2014, awaiting Government Response

In September 2013, the Government announced that it would introduce in England a levy of 5p on single-use plastic carrier bags in 2015. Small retailers with fewer than 250 employers will be exempt from the charge. The Government has also suggested that it may incentivise the use of biodegradable plastic bags, which might be exempt from the levy. A 5p charge is already levied in Northern Ireland and Wales, and a similar charge will be introduced in Scotland in October 2014.

The European Commission has tabled proposals for member states to reduce their use of ‘lightweight plastic bags’, by introducing measures including taxes and levies, national reduction targets or an outright ban (a change to the existing packaging directive would be needed to allow a ban). If accepted, member states would have two years to implement the proposals.

The Environmental Audit Committee has now published its report looking at the Government’s proposals for introducing a 5p charge for carrier bags in England. The Committee support the aims of the charge which are to cut waste, litter and carbon emissions, but conclude the approach must be kept simple for the scheme to be effective.

Joan Walley MP said:

“Experience from Ireland and Wales shows these schemes are popular and can make a real difference. Before the Government reaches the check-out with this policy, it needs to drop the exemptions and keep it simple to help shoppers do the right thing. This needn’t be difficult– simple schemes in Wales and Ireland have dramatically reduced bag use, and had positive environmental impact. It’s not too late to start listening and to re-think these flawed plans.”
 

News

Publications

  • Close

    Glossary

    • Reports and associated evidence – Reports of Committee inquires. This category may also include Special Reports where they are used by a Committee to bring matters relating to conduct of its business to the notice of the House.
    • Responses to Reports - Responses may be published as a Special Report, or as a Command Paper. They may also be appended to a Report should the Committee have substantial comments on the Response, in which case they can be found listed under Reports. 
    • Other oral and written evidence - Evidence taken by the Committee that has yet to or did not result in the publication of a Report. This includes transcripts of recent meetings.
    • Estimate Memoranda - An Estimate memorandum is an explanatory note that accompanies a government department’s estimate (a means by which a department seeks authority from Parliament for its spending plans).
    • Correspondence - Correspondence sent from or received by the Committee or its Chair.