Customers could dump wrappers before leaving shop under new law

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Supermarkets would be forced to provide waste bins to enable shoppers to throw away packaging before they leave the store under a Bill to be presented to the Commons today. It would also require customers to pay a refundable deposit for any plastic bags they used.

Jo Swinson, who is introducing the Bill, said tough new action was needed as current regulations against excess packaging were vague and rarely enforced. She is calling for a national body to force companies to meet legal targets for reducing packaging on goods, instead of the voluntary ones currently in force.

Under her Bill, which is being backed by MPs of all parties, manufacturers could be prosecuted if they flouted the guidelines.

Ms Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP for Dunbartonshire East, will tell the Commons today that The Independent's campaign on packaging had played a key role in highlighting the issue. She said: "It's great The Independent has been campaigning on this subject. The more people become aware of it, the more pressure we can collectively put on the Government."

Ms Swinson said many shoppers were frustrated by the lavish packaging surrounding goods and would welcome the chance to throw it away at the counter. "It would be a very easy and quick way of persuading retailers that they don't need to have all this excess packaging. If we make it their problem, they will respond quickly," she said.

She is also calling for shoppers to pay a small sum – possibly 10p – for each new plastic bag, which would be refunded when the bags were returned.

"Plastic bags are quite an efficient way of carrying things," she said.

"The problem is that we aren't reusing or recycling them. They are a wasted resource," she said.

Ms Swinson said there had only been four recent prosecutions over excessive packaging and that the Government gave low priority to the issue.

More than 180 MPs have so far signed a Commons motion condemning the "excessive levels of packaging used by manufacturers and retailers".

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