The new 5p charge for plastic carrier bags is a success!

Published on by John Hirst, Chief Executive.

Following the recent changes which have introduced a charge for plastic bag in most retail outlets, John Hirst, Chief Executive of Destination Bristol tells us how the retailers and shoppers are adjusting to this.

Interestingly, since the government introduced the levy in October, Tesco has reported that single-use plastic bag usage has gone down by 78%.

John Hirst, Chief Executive, Destination Bristol

This has been one of the smoothest changes to established procedures that we have introduced throughout my retail career. The fact that Bristol is European Green Capital 2015 did significantly help with the smooth transition where we have moved from free bags to everyone to a small charge being made by most stores.

Interestingly, since the government introduced the levy in October, Tesco has reported that single-use plastic bag usage has gone down by 78%. This is fantastic news for everyone and long may it continue!

Bristol is leading the way as European Green Capital 2015 and pushing hard to make sensible and significant changes to how we all have in many cases acted irresponsibly with regards to all things plastic, both bottles and bags.

Overall, the new charge has been received positively – I haven’t received any complaints from shoppers or retailers. Shoppers now seem to come shopping with their own re-usable bags, which is good to see. We continue to see an abundance of Primark paper carrier bags; they have been leading the way for a long time, which is a credit to them.

I think the only outstanding question is when a customer pays 5p for the bag, who keeps that money? Some think it goes to charity, some to the retailer? There needs to be more clarity about where it goes and what is being done with it.

Finally, I think we are all now asking ourselves ‘why has this not happen years ago, and how can we carry this through and make similar significant changes to other parts of our lives?’

It makes such good sense for now, and for the future.