Manchester campaigner backs 5p carrier bag charge in bid to save environment

Anyone heading to a shop or supermarket today won’t fail to notice something a little different at the tills.

From this morning plastic bags will cost 5p in a bid to stop people using them in such vast quantities and while many national newspaper front pages screamed of the potential chaos this was going to cause, MM certainly didn’t see anything that unusual when picking up the milk on the way into the office.

In 2014 supermarkets gave out a shocking 7.65billion plastic bags, and campaigners hope that the 5p charge will make shoppers think twice before using a new one each time they pop to the shops.

Plastic bags have a hugely negative effect on wildlife, as animals can easily mistake them for food, and they also add to the pacific trash vortex which is a pile of rubbish in the Pacific Ocean the size of Turkey.

The charge will be compulsory for big businesses that have over 250 members of staff nationally but it will be optional for smaller retailers.

The Federation of Small Businesses polled members to gauge their opinions on the new bag charges.

Only 9% of those polled will charge for bags, while 78% said they will not and will continue to provide free bags.

Some 13% of members stated that they may implement bag charges at a later point.

They were also asked whether all retailers should be included regardless of their size, with 42% of members voting yes and 58% saying no.

Andy Walker, who campaigned for the 5p bag charge to be brought in, said that most people supported the charge and could easily avoid it.

He said: “When we were campaigning for the charge, we were always told that this is something that people won’t stand for.

“All the surveying that we did when we were campaigning for the charge showed that people thought it was ridiculous that there were so many carrier bags being handed out.

“At the end of the day this is a charge that nobody has to pay because all you have to do to avoid it is bring your own bags to the shop

“The public will avoid paying it, and it’s a charge they largely agree with anyway.”

This new charge will bring England up to speed with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Wales started charging for plastic bags in 2011 and saw a 70% drop in usage and when Northern Ireland followed in 2013 they saw a 42% drop.

The government hope that the charge will lead to an 80% reduction in plastic bag use in England.

Image courtesy of STV, via YouTube, with thanks.

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