Press release: Local campaigners give two cheers to a plastic bag charge in England, 4/5/14


Letter published in The Independent, 10/6/14


Greener Upon Thames, the anti-plastic-waste campaign based in Kingston and Richmond, welcomed the introduction of a carrier bag charge in England in the Queen's speech on June 4th, but expressed disappointment that it would exclude paper and biodegradable bags and wouldn't apply to small shops. Local campaigner Trish Pargeter said that Greener Upon Thames would continue to press for less confusing legislation that would also be more effective in reducing waste, litter and damage to the environment and wildlife.


Local MP Zac Goldsmith comments: "Plastic bags are the most obvious, and gratuitous symbols of our throwaway culture, and it’s therefore good news that the Government is bringing in a levy on their use. But as ever, the scheme is vastly overcomplicated. It already works simply and very well in Wales, where plastic bag use has plummeted and where the scheme is popular, and I hope in time the Government will learn from their experiences."


A member of the national Break the Bag Habit campaign, Greener Upon Thames believes that the Government has shown a spectacular failure to listen to the guidance given by every sector asked for advice by announcing today that its proposed scheme will exclude small retailers, paper bags and biodegradable bags. The result will be a scheme that is inconsistent with the ones in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – confusing for both retailers and consumers. The bag charge is designed to significantly reduce more than 7 billion bags given out every year in England, in turn reducing the incidence of littering and choked wildlife. But with only larger retailers required to take part in the scheme, consumers will find the scheme inconsistent and the small retailers won’t have the chance to reduce their costs.


Samantha Harding, spokesperson for the Break the Bag Habit campaign, says: ‘With this blanket refusal to listen or consider other view points, the Government has shown its contempt for its own consultation process. With representative groups, bodies and agencies clearly stating the bag charge scheme won’t work with the proposed exemptions, it is staggering that this advice and expertise has been so blatantly disregarded. 


‘At a time when so many other issues need funding, we will now see precious money being spent on helping consumers understand this complicated and irrational scheme. We would urge both large and small retailers to introduce the scheme voluntarily in England at the same time as the scheme in Scotland. This could reduce costs and allow them to achieve the benefits the Government has been too short-sighted to make compulsory.’


Notes for editors 


Greener Upon Thames, in the London boroughs of Richmond and Kingston, is a community-driven campaign to reduce plastic bag use, make London plastic-bag-free, and pressure Government for a ban or levy on single-use bags. Backed by politicians, schools, more than 500 shops and thousands of residents, we hope to break the bag habits of millions in London and beyond by producing and distributing literature and infomercials, organising local events, and participating in international action days to raise awareness about the impact of plastic bags, excess packaging and waste plastic on the environment and future generations.
Facebook page:


Further information or comment can be obtained from
Michael Glazebrook, Chair of Greener upon Thames, or 07736 069336
Marilyn Mason, coordinator of Greener Kingston, or 020 8546 4086


The news received some national coverage in June 2014, and campaigners, including Marilyn Mason of Greener Kingston and Greener Upon Thames, took the oppotunity to write letters to local and national media. Click here to see ones published in The Independent on 10/6/14, Marilyn's in response to an earlier news item warning about the dangers of food poisoning from reusable bags!