SUPERMARKET shoppers in the Taunton and Wellington area will face a 5p charge for plastic bags after next year’s General Election.
The England-wide levy, outlined in a Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee report, will raise millions of pounds for charity – and the Treasury.
The aim is to reduce the impact of plastic bags on the environment and a 5p price has already been successfully introduced elsewhere in the UK.
Rebecca Pow, who is standing for the Conservatives at the election, uses a 27-year-old wicker basket and old carrier bags when she shops.
She said: “This is good news.
“The issue of our ‘carrier bag’ mad country has been something of a bugbear of mine for years.
“Year on year, the number of plastic bags being given out by shops has been rising.
“A staggering 8.1billion thin-gauge carrier bags were used by supermarket customers in 2012, the latest data available.
“They blight our towns and countryside, take hundreds of years to degrade and can kill animals.”
Ms Pow said ditching plastic would prevent some of the 70,000 tonnes of bags dumped in landfill every year and halt the subsequent destruction of the countryside.
She added: “It’s essential that small business – so important in job creation – isn’t penalised, but checks are in place to ensure this doesn’t happen.”
Somerset county councillor Linda Vijeh won’t be paying the levy when it comes in as she’s built up a stash of plastic bags over the years.
But she said: “The nonsense being espoused about the supposed cuts in carbon emissions – (by reduced plastic bag usage) – could quite easily be solved by doing more to ensure that as responsible citizens we don’t litter.”
She added that while customers are being hit with the charge to help the environment, nothing is being done to stop supermarkets using unnecessary packaging.
*Wales introduced a 5p charge in 2011 and usage has dropped by 96% in some sectors.
*Northern Ireland brought in a 5p levy in 2013, leading to a drop in usage of 80%. The amount may double to 10p as it has been so successful.
*Plastic bags will cost 5p in Scotland from October this year.
*Biodegradable, paper and reusable ‘bags for life’ will avoid the levy, which will only be imposed in supermarkets and larger stores.
*The charge in England will raise an estimated £70million for charity and £19 in VAT when it comes in after the 2015 General Election.