Shoppers and traders in Nottingham have given a mixed reception to the new 10p levy on plastic carrier bags.
From Friday (May 21) all shops – including the smallest corner shops – are legally obliged to charge customers 10p for single-use plastic bags.
For the last six years, only businesses with more than 250 staff have had to charge for bags – and the price was only 5p.
Big supermarkets and trader associations welcomed the news when Government Ministers announced they were increasing the levy to “help our natural environment and oceans”.
But in Nottingham shops this week, reactions among customers and traders were mixed.
Supervisor Avita Jansome, 29, at the Victoria’s food store on Mansfield Road, said: “It’s going to make people think twice before they leave their house to go shopping.
“I understand people may be annoyed because it’s just a plastic bag. But all the waste goes into the ocean so it should make people reflect.”
Sales assistant Annabel Matthews, 22, at Rough Trade on Broad Street, agreed.
“Anything that reduces plastic usage has to be a good thing,” she said.
“People are more aware than ever of the damage a plastic bag can do, so we also have paper bags to offer people.”
Plastic bag usage has fallen by 95 per cent since the 5p levy was introduced in 2015.
But some shoppers wonder whether it will reduce again when the plastic levy doubles.
Digital Marketer Sarah Gibbins, 25 from Hyson Green said: “It may be pointless. People could continue to use plastic bags just as much as they used to – it’ll just be more expensive.
“More businesses should take on the idea of using paper bags. It’s more sustainable, and eco-friendly.”
Recruiter Elizabeth Jennings, 34, from Arnold added: “They should get rid of single-use plastic bags altogether and only sell reusable bags that they charge fifty pence for.”
Money collected from the levy will be donated to good causes, primarily environmental charities.
The manager at Nottingham’s White Rose 4 Dominic Carter, 27 said: “As a charity that is quite eco-friendly any legislation that encourages sustainability is a good thing.
“All of our bags are biodegradable, and we do try to suggest to customers bring their own bags.
“Hopefully the 10p charge will further the development of sustainability.”
Shops already charging 10p or more for a bag will not be required to increase their pricing – and large retailers who employ more than 250 full-time staff must now record how many bags they sell.
Retailers who don’t comply can be fined up to £5,000.
Sales assistant Thusha Gunawarvna, 46, at Londis on Mansfield Road, said: “Most of our customers are not happy at having to pay extra for a bag, because they are already buying their items. But I agree with the Government that it will help the environment in the long term.”
Ministers hope the use of single-use carrier bags will fall by up to 80 per cent for customers of the small and medium-sized businesses that will be charging for plastic bags for the first time.
In 2014, before the 5p levy was introduced, the average shopper used 140 plastic carrier bags every year. That figure is now four.