New Carrier Bag Charges for Scotland

I’m Liina, one of the Recycling Officers on the team, and this is my first post on our Recycle for Aberdeen blog.

I like to think I have a unique perspective on waste and recycling because I am not originally from Scotland; I grew up in Estonia and later came to Aberdeen to study. I picked up my favourite reusable carrier many years ago from a fashion fair in Copenhagen where they were giving out reusable bags for free. They were not just simple bags but also cool, trendy, and with multiple uses. I still have mine and I love using it, partly because it reminds me of the great experience I had at the fashion fair. One of the reasons that I was so keen on those bags might be the fact that plastic shopping bags were not free where I lived.

This is going to change in Scotland too.

Here are some of the facts

The Scottish Government is introducing legislation that will require ALL retailers (food and non-food) to charge a minimum of 5p for each single-use carrier bag (paper, starch-based and plastic) they hand out to shoppers from 20th October 2014 onwards. Click here to read more.

According to the Scottish Government, Scotland uses more Single Use Carrier Bags per person than any other nation in the UK and there are approximately 7 million Single Use Carrier Bags in the litter stream in Scotland. The new legislation aims to address problems with litter and the contamination of oceans.

There are a few exemptions from the charge, including small bags, bags for loose items etc. Read more about the exemptions  here.

Bag charges have been introduced successfully elsewhere in the UK. Since then, use of new bags has dropped by 80% in Northern Ireland and 70% in Wales. Read the progress in Wales here.

What are the benefits of using a reusable bag?

  • It reduces air and water pollution caused by plastic.
  • It reduces cost from disposal of bags. Remember that a plastic carrier bag is non-recyclable.
  • Reduces visual impact and costs for cleaning of bag-related litter.
  • You need fewer storage containers at home. Attractive looking reusable bags can be an extra bag for your daily life for the folders and lunch box/snacks when you go to school or work; a bag to put your spare shoes when going to the theatre; a bag for the materials when going to a yoga or art class etc.
  • You save money as you have your own ‘bag for life’ instead of buying new ones.
  • They are unique, trendy, original, handy and, last but not least, environmentally friendly.

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to practice good hygiene with your reusable bags. Keep raw meat separate from cooked or ready-to-eat items. Remember to wash bags regularly.
  • Keep bags handy in your handbag or in your car so that you don’t forget them when you go shopping.
  • Remember this phrase while shopping- Less is More! Buy only what you need and leave more natural resources for the future.

What happens with the carrier bag charge money? Retailers can sign up to the Carrier Bag Commitment to make a public pledge about where the money goes. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) site was supported by Tesco and children in Cardiff by Morrisons in Wales by the carrier bag charge. Contact your supermarket to find out if they are supporting a local charity.

I did some digging online and here are my favourite reusable bags:

My favourite is a BAGGU. Maybe because of its fantastic gallery I found from the web (see below). Or is it because of the design and multiple colours? The design is also practical as the Baggu Bag handles are the perfect length: you can hold them in your hand, on your forearm, or over your shoulder. If you check out their website you can find bags in multiple colours and sizes including a Backpack! Read about their story.

Pocket bagguPocket baggu_2BagguColourful baggu

Check out more funky reusable bags at NOTCOT.

These examples are for online-shoppers; however, there are lots of opportunities to find your own bag in a suitable size, colour and style. Most of the fashion stores in Aberdeen offer their reusable shopping bags and most supermarkets sell reusable shopping bags too. Go find the one you love and make your choice! Aberdeen City Council’s Recycling Team is also giving out free reusable bags, which are small and handy. To get yours, contact us or meet us at events.

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