Plastic bags inquiry begins

12 December 2013

The Environmental Audit Committee will hold the first public evidence hearing on Plastic Bags at 2.15 pm on Wednesday 18 December 2013 in the Thatcher Room, Portcullis House.

Purpose of session

The Environmental Audit Committee will question Minister Dan Rogerson and Defra officials on the sustainability of the Government’s proposals to introduce a 5p charge in England for single-use plastic bags.

In September 2013, the Government announced that it would introduce a mandatory charge of 5p on single-use plastic carrier bags in England in 2015. Small retailers with fewer than 250 employers will be exempt from the charge. A 5p charge is already levied in Northern Ireland and Wales, and a similar charge will be introduced in Scotland in October 2014. The Government also intends to incentivise the use of biodegradable plastic bags in England, which would also be exempt from the charge, as would paper bags. The Government has launched a Call for Evidence on a limited set of questions relating to these proposals, which closes on 20 December.

The Committee will also hear evidence from experts including those involved in implementing and evaluating the scheme in Wales. Unlike the Welsh scheme, the Government is proposing a series of exemptions from the charge, which have been criticized by litter campaign groups, retailers and the plastics and recycling industries- and the Committee will also hear from representatives from these groups.

The Committee will also be holding an additional session as part of this inquiry on 8 January, when they will take time to explore in more detail different ‘biodegradable’ materials and their implications for recycling and waste management systems.


At c2.15 pm (Panel 1)

  • Dr Richard Swannell, Director of Sustainable Food Systems, WRAP
  • Dr Wouter Poortinga, Reader in Environmental Psychology, Cardiff University
  • Matthew Quinn, Director for Environment, Welsh Government

c2.50 pm (Panel 2)

  •  Neil Sinden, Policy Manager, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
  • Andrew Opie, Director of Food and Sustainability, British Retail Consortium (BRC)
  • Barry Turner, Chief Executive, Packaging and Film Association (PAFA)

c3.30 pm (Panel 3)

  • Dan Rogerson MP, Minister for Water, Forestry, Rural Affairs and Resource Management, Defra
  • Clare Hawley, Deputy Director, Waste Strategy and Management, Defra
  • Karen Lepper, Deputy Director, Waste Strategy and Management, Defra
  • Laura Denison, Team Leader, Carrier bag policy, Defra

Further information

About Parliament: Select Committees

Visit Parliament: Watch Committees 

Image: iStockphoto

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