FT - James Lowman, chairman, ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has expressed concern after the Welsh government announced plans to ban plastic bags which are currently subject to a 5p charge.

The proposal is contained in a draft Bill which seeks to ban or restrict the sale of some of the most commonly littered single-use plastics in Wales.

The Welsh government launched two consultations earlier this year regarding the reduction of single-use plastics. The first sought the ban of single-use plastic carrier bags and wet wipes containing plastic. The second sought views on banning nine single-use plastic products including: cups, cutlery, drink-stirrers, lids for cups or takeaway food containers, straws, plates, balloon sticks, carrier bags and cotton buds.

The Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill, which has been published as part of the Environment and climate change planning and strategy, would prohibit the sale of these products. The draft Bill will make it an offence for a person to supply or offer to supply (including for free) a consumer in Wales with the single-use plastic products listed.

Wales was the first UK nation to introduce a single use plastic bag charge at 5p per bag, with Scotland and England following with their own plastic bag charges. The charge has been successful in reducing the amount of bags in circulation, as well as raising money for good causes.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience retailers are committed to making a positive difference in the communities that they operate and local shops in Wales have played a key role in reducing single-use plastics across Wales. This is evident in the reduction of plastic bag usage through the successful implementation of the 5p charge. We have previously raised concerns about a blanket ban on these products and in particular the inclusion of plastic carrier bags in the ban as shoppers value the ability to purchase bags when they forgotten theirs or are doing an unplanned trip.

“The draft Bill currently fails to specify an implementation date and it is important that the Welsh Government provides clarification on the timescales for the introduction of a ban to ensure a realistic sell-through period for retailers on the prohibited products. Another key factor is ensuring that any ban is supported by a comprehensive communications campaign to avoid frustration and confusion among customers. We will continue to engage with the Welsh government on the delivery of their plans to ensure that it is workable for retailers.”