September 30, 2011

Small retailers confused over carrier bag charge

by Jan Harris

From tomorrow, shoppers in Wales will have to pay at least 5p for a formerly free carrier bag, as part of the Government’s efforts to cut down on the number of bags going to landfill.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales is helping to make sure that smaller retailers are up-to-speed with the new carrier bag levy.

Although the Welsh Government has sent information packs to retailers explaining the charge, the lack of a definitive database of all Welsh retailers means that some may have missed out.

The Federation of Small Businesses is emailing all its members with the necessary information, in an effort to reduce the confusion.

All types of shops will be legally required to charge for the bags, in order to encourage people to use their own bags.

There is still confusion over exemptions to the charge as free bags will be available with some goods, a carton of chips for example, but not with others, including the same carton of chips when it is purchased along with a burger in a box!

When the systems is fully operations, shops could be fined up to £5,000 for giving away free bags, but rules will be relaxed during the first three months.

It will be local authorities’ responsibility to enforce the charge, but there still seems to be some confusion over how this will work in practice.

Shops will also have to deal with customers who may not be aware of the change.

Although the money raised from the carrier bag tax will go to good causes, a survey by Cardiff University found that most people think it is a money-making scheme.

The number of carrier bags handed out by British supermarket increased by 333 million last year.

Although single-use bags are used for an average of just 20 minutes, they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade.

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