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Carrier bag confusion

05 October 2011

shopping webThe shopping bag charges are causing confusion

A new report shows that Welsh shoppers are not clear on the reasons behind the minimum 5p charge for a single use carrier bag.

The University’s Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (BRASS) measured the public’s attitude, awareness and acceptance of the charge, which was introduced at the weekend. The research found that while 70% of shoppers agree with the introduction of the single use carrier bag charge, a significant number believe it has been introduced solely to raise revenue for the government.

Few respondents knew that the funds would not be returned to the Welsh Government . When they learned that the extra charge goes to a charity of the shop’s choice, many shoppers said they would be willing to pay more than the extra 5p.

The full report, Introduction of Single Use Carrier Bag Charge, Wales: Awareness of and Acceptance by Shoppers in Cardiff has just been published by BRASS. The report’s author, Lori Frater said: "The public, whilst in agreement with the charge, do have reservations about the reasons why the Welsh Government introduced the charge. Although they are aware of many of the environmental reasons, many of the respondents did hold very strong views that the charge was being introduced solely to raise revenue for the government."

Of the 600 people interviewed, 85% were aware that a carrier bag was being introduced. However, 60% believed the charge only applies to plastic and were not aware that it also applies to paper bags. Of those in favour of the charge, only one respondent gave climate change as a reason for their agreement.

Lori Frater added: "Although the majority of shoppers surveyed appear to be accepting of the charge, the Welsh Government now needs to work on the ‘bigger picture’ in terms of changing behaviour itself. The results of this survey have demonstrated that although carrier bags were linked to environmental issues, the majority of respondents viewed carrier bags as the cause of the problem and did not view them as a by-product of over-consumption itself."