Plastic bag levy a 'complete mess', say MPs

Cross-party committee says current proposals are based on "wishful thinking"

A cross-party committee of MPs has dismissed government plans to introduce a 5p charge on plastic carrier bags in England as a "complete mess".

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said current proposals are "unnecessarily complicated" and the levy is based on "wishful thinking than hard evidence".

MPs said the plan, which excludes biodegradable bags, paper bags and small retailers, is overly complicated and risks confusing consumers, undermining the potential benefits of the scheme.

Chairwoman Joan Walley said: "Ministers have managed to make a complete mess of their planned carrier bags charge by making it unnecessarily complicated."

"Carrier bags litter our streets and harm wildlife, and the government is right to want to reduce their use, " she added. "But Defra seems to have made decisions about the design of this scheme that were based more on wishful thinking than hard evidence."

The report called on the Government to drop the exemptions and apply the levy on all types of bags and retailers, including small businesses, following the example set by Wales, which has "successfully" introduced a 5p charge on all types of carrier bags, according to the report.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs defended the plan insisting it "should not come at the cost of burdening small businesses who can choose whether or not to charge their customers".

A Defra spokesperson added: "Paper bags make only a small proportion of carrier bags and break down naturally; biodegradable bags will only be exempt if they are genuinely biodegradable."

Some eight billion disposable carrier bags are used in England every year- the equivalent of over 130 bags per person each year. In Wales, that number has decreased to 22 a year following the introduction of a 5 charge.

Friends of the Earth said charging for disposable bags is a "step in the right direction" but warned that the Government must do more to encourage recycling and slash waste in England.

Campaigner Michael Warhurst said: "Ministers must take urgent steps to slash waste and turn it into valuable resources, and save some of the phenomenal £650 million a year we squander burying nd burning reusable and recyclable materials."

Last year,  Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the levy on single-use bags would come into effect after the 2015 general elections and the money raised by the scheme would go to charity.

Research shows a large majority (81 per cent) in England is willing to pay 5p for carrier bags if the money is indeed used for charity. Government experts say the levy could raise around £70 million.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk