Consumers will need to know how their money is being spent if a proposed charge on single-use plastic carrier bags is introduced in Wales, according to Consumer Focus Wales.
Consumer Focus Wales supports the principle of encouraging consumers to reduce their use of plastic carrier bags and live a more sustainable lifestyle. But the consumer watchdog believes any money raised by charging for plastic bags should be used in an open and transparent way by an independent ‘arms-length’ body.
Consumer Focus Wales chair, Vivienne Sugar, said: “We are concerned about the possible impact a charge will have on lower income groups, and believe it is vital for the Welsh Assembly Government to ask people how much they would be willing to pay for a charge on plastic bags.
“We also feel that in order for consumers to be confident this charge is used effectively for the benefit of the environment, the use of an independent body to administer the money is key. We recognise that Welsh Ministers do not currently have the power to say where any money raised from a charge should go, and strongly urge that current plans to change the law in this regard are prioritised.”
Consumer Focus Wales believes such steps are vital to ensure transparency for consumers in Wales, enabling greater consumer confidence in this initiative. The Welsh Assembly Government is also urged to work closely with all businesses who will be affected by the change to help them explain the message to consumers.
Ms Sugar added: “Consumers may be familiar with the concept of paying for bags in some larger food stores but won’t have paid for bags in stores such as clothing shops or takeaways. Retailers and businesses must make consumers fully aware at the point of purchase that there will be an additional charge for a carrier bag.”
Consumer Focus Wales believes the Welsh Assembly Government should also take the opportunity to promote the positive aspects of a more sustainable lifestyle such as that included in the Welsh Assembly Government’s recent “Get Carried Away” campaign. This could include tips to help consumers remember their bag for life when they go shopping as well as the dissemination of free bags for life in partnership with local communities.
For more information please contact Angharad/Jamie on 029 2078 7111/0.