Research Manager

The Overwhelming majority of people are in favour of the new 5p bag charge and most people would also like to see more charges that encourage care for the environment

As of October 5th shoppers at all supermarkets and large shops in England will be charged 5p for each plastic bag. The goal is to cut the number of plastic bags, which are usually not biodegradable and remain in landfill for hundreds of years, given to shoppers – the current estimate is 7.6 billion annually.

A new First Verdict poll finds that an overwhelming number of people support the 5p charge.

One in three are for further measures based on charges that could discourage environmentally harmful behaviours. One in ten, however, think we should reduce environmental charges and taxes.

The poll shows that more Labour supporters are in favour of higher charges than those who back the Conservatives.

This issue provoked a lot of reaction. “It makes me cross that I have to pay for a bag that advertises the store, I think that all bags that are paid for should not have the store names on. I don't want to pay for free advertising for these large stores. The profits that they make are large enough, they should give back to their customers and take the charge for the bags”, one user writes. Another opinion suggests “we should discourage damage to the environment but most shops are offering no alternative. What happened to paper bags?” In a different comment it is pointed out we should be reducing the number of plastic bags we use “without having to be financially held to ransom”. “It’s a bad reflection on today's society when the only reason we will do good things for the environment is when it hits us financially”, this user argues.

England is the last part of the UK to introduce the 5p bag charge. In 2011, Wales started charging 5p per plastic bag and usage fell by 71%. Northern Ireland and Scotland followed suit in 2013 and 2014 and the measure showed good results. Bangladesh was the first country in the world to ban plastic bags altogether in 2002.

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