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Plastic Bags

Volume 455: debated on Friday 26 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will reverse his decision on a plastic bag levy for shoppers. (111430)

The Government have no current plans to introduce a levy on plastic bags for shoppers.

Although a levy on plastic carrier bags may reduce the number of disposable lightweight plastic bags in circulation, there is at present no clear evidence that such a tax would be beneficial on either broad environmental or litter grounds. The net overall environmental effect of a levy would depend largely on the nature and extent of substitution by other products, including the use of bags made from other materials and alternative forms of packaging.

On 12 October last year, the Scottish Minister, Ross Finnie, and I jointly chaired a meeting with major UK retailers, to discuss a proposed voluntary code of practice on reducing the use of paper and plastic carrier bags.

DEFRA is working closely with the devolved administrations, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), the British Retail Consortium, retailers and the plastics industry on this issue and we intend to announce a programme of joint activity shortly.