A new 5p charge on plastic bags from larger shops and supermarkets in Southwark started last Monday.
Liberal Democrats legislated for the charge in the previous Government as plastic bags can take hundreds of years to break down in rubbish dumps, cause harm to wildlife and litter local streets and parks.
The charge will also save Southwark Council money by reducing the number of plastic bags that go to landfill containing people’s rubbish and by cutting the number of plastic bags in the street, estates and parks that need cleaning up.
The changes affect only large businesses with over 250 employees though smaller businesses can charge for plastic bags on a voluntary basis. Retailers are also expected to use the proceeds from the sale of plastic bags for good causes. They will need to report on what they do with the money and the information will be published each year.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Councillor Rosie Shimell said:
“Southwark Liberal Democrats are fighting residents’ corner to improve our local environment. We believe this new charge for plastic bags will encourage us all to change our habits and think again about whether we really need another plastic bag.
“Plastic bags blight our streets and estates. They can trap and suffocate local wildlife and they take hundreds of years to degrade when they are in the rubbish dump.
“All the money raised from the plastic bag charge will go to charities. We are encouraging local charity groups to apply for some of the money to help make a real difference to Southwark residents’ lives.”