Defra defends its timetable for introduction of plastic bag charge


The reasons for taking until October 2015 to introduce a plastic bag charge have been outlined by Defra.

In its response to the Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Departmental Annual Report 2012-13, Defra said it would not be possible for it to introduce the 5p charge in England earlier as recommended by the committee.


It said in its response: “We welcome the Committee’s interest and their support for the plastic bag charge in England and note the comments provided. We want to reduce the number of plastic bags being used in England and increase the number of bags being reused by consumers. This will reduce the number of plastic bags being discarded as litter on land and at sea. It will also reduce the environmental and resource cost of their production.

“We agree [with the Committee] that good progress in reducing plastic bag usage has been made through charging schemes in other parts of the UK. In October 2015, the Government will bring into force a 5p charge on all single-use plastic carrier bags in England. The charge will not come into effect until 2015 because of the time needed to prepare secondary legislation and work on details, such as exemptions, and the time needed for retailers to prepare for the change.”

Defra also said that is it working on standards for biodegradable bags that would be exempt from the charge with the industry.   

It also said that one of the reasons for it reducing its activity in waste policy particularly in areas such as commercial and industrial waste, construction and demolition waste and energy from waste, is to allow it to implement upcoming European regulation and legislation.

Defra said in the response: “These changes will enable Defra to focus on its priorities, as a Government department, in ensuring the negotiation and implementation of proportionate EU waste agreements. This is likely to be a priority in 2014 as the European Commission is expected to bring forward proposals on waste and resource efficiency.”