Carrier bags

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) has renewed its call for the 5p carrier bag charge to be extended to all small shops in England.

The legislation, which came into force across all stores in Scotland in 2014 and Wales in 2011, detailed that only large retailers in England were required to charge 5p per plastic bag and small and medium businesses could opt in of their own accord.

Having asked for small stores to be covered before the levy was imposed, it is now calling for an extension for the levy to smaller stores in order to reduce customer confusion about which outlets were imposing the charge.

A survey conducted for Break the Bag Habit Coalition revealed that 42% of customers were confused that only some outlets imposed the levy, and 70% believed the 5p charge was reasonable.

“We have said all along that excluding small shops from the levy would cause customer confusion and this latest poll clearly demonstrates this to be the case,” said NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter.

“With nearly half the respondents saying they are unclear on the legislation and nearly three quarters saying that the 5p charge is reasonable, it must surely be time for the government to look again at extending the levy to smaller shops.”

“This would have clear benefits all round. Customer confusion would disappear and as well as cutting their own costs and playing a part in reducing the litter issues in their areas, our members can help raise even more money for local and worthy causes. With such new and compelling evidence, it has to be time for the Department of the Environment to reconsider.”