South West Londoners may face plastic bag charges


Mayor of London Boris Johnson is backing plans to impose compulsory charges for plastic bags.


By Sarah Ingrams

South West London shoppers could face bigger bills as the Mayor of London backed plans to impose a compulsory charge for plastic bags at a meeting earlier this month.

Boris Johnson promised to pressurise the government to introduce a 5p charge on carrier bags at Mayor’s Question Time on October 12.

The aim of the charge is to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in landfill.

The Mayor said: “On the issue of plastic bags, actually we are going backwards and I am not satisfied with the way things are at the moment.”

He added: “I think it would be a good thing if we could do more on plastic bags.”

He said that he had seen figures that revealed the number of carrier bags used by shoppers has recently increased despite the introduction of permanent bags.

But shoppers on Wimbledon Hill Road were unconvinced about the possibility of paying for plastic bags.

Jane Henderson from Wimbledon Village said: “It wouldn’t be very fair. Why should I have to pay for a plastic bag to carry my shopping?

Using five plastic bags to carry a weekly shop would add just 25 pence to the bill. But over a year, this would add up to £13.

The Mayor asked who ultimately pays the price for plastic bags.

“Are you adding another tax that falls disproportionately on lower income people?” he said.

But Darren Johnson, Londonwide Assembly Member (Green), explained that when Ireland introduced a 10p per bag charge a year ago, use decreased by 90%.

He said: “So rather than people being hit by a tax, they simply stopped getting the bags.”

And mother-of-two Emma Carter has already stopped using plastic bags. She said: “The cost would make no difference to me because I’ve bought Bags for Life.”

In his blog, Mr D. Johnson writes: “The single use plastic bag is a potent symbol of needless waste and an unnecessary reflex at the till.”

And at Question Time he called on the Mayor to put pressure on the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Hume, to bring the levy into force.

“I urge you to lobby the government now rather than pursue more dithering on this issue,” he said.

Under the Climate Change Act 2008 the Secretary of State has the power to introduce a levy on plastic bags. Mr Hume has not yet used this power.

When Boris Johnson ran for Mayor in 2008, the London Council planned to ban plastic bags but the idea was abandoned.

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