Franchising Rebecca Smith · 5 October 2015
Small retailers want to be included in the 5p plastic bag charge
The government’s 5p plastic bag chargecomes into effect from today, but doesn’t include retailers employing fewer than 250 employees as it would be too costly. However, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) said around 16 per cent of England’s village newsagents and corner shops were planning to bring in the charge, regardless of the exemption. James Lowman, CEO of the ACS, said: We believe that the best option for England is to introduce a universal carrier bag charge that requires all stores to charge for bags, as is already the case in Wales and Scotland, but unfortunately, the government has excluded small businesses from the legislation creating confusion for both retailers and consumers. He added that charging for carrier bags was a great way to raise money for local charities and help the environment, so encouraged local retailers to introduce their own voluntary charging schemes in stores wherever it is practical to do so. The aim of the chargeisto cut down on the number of plastic bags being taken home by shoppers each year often ending up causing litter, damaging wildlife and polluting the oceans. A study found that 90 per cent of seabirds have eaten plastic and are likely to retain some in their gut. A recent estimate said there was about eight million tonnes of plastic waste a year that finds its way into the oceans, increasing danger to wildlife. On current trends, the report said by 2050 plastic ingestion would touch 99 per cent of the world’s seabird species, with nearly every individual affected. The exemption also means that a customer may go into a Spar store somewhere and be asked to pay the 5p charge, but go to one elsewhere and not have to pay as that branch hasfewer than 250 employees. Those managed under franchises escape the charge, but those controlled by head office have to take part. The ACS has warned excluding England’s 50, 000 small retailers willcause confusion for both shops and shoppers. It said the charge being universal in Wales has seen retailers raise money for more local engagement and be more involved within the community. Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium’s environmental policy adviser, Alice Ellison, warning the charge in England would not showcase the same environmental impact as other existing charges seen in Wales and Scotland.
ABOUT THE EXPERTRebecca Smith
Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.