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Single-use plastic and paper bags to be banned

21 July 2021

The States Assembly has unanimously voted to ban the supply and distribution of specific types of single-use plastic and paper bags. Under the new law it will also be a legal requirement for traders to charge at least 70 pence for a bag for life.

The 70 pence fee has been set following consultation with the industry and is in line with research that found it is the optimal price in discouraging customers from repeatedly buying new bags.

Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Kevin Lewis, who brought forward the proposition, said: "Similar bans on specific types of single use plastics are becoming more common place across the world, and I am pleased we are leading the way in the British Isles with this legislation

"I'm pleased States Members supported this move, aimed at reducing waste and supporting our move to a carbon neutral future.

"While many businesses would have been able to comply with the new law by January 2022, others may find it challenging to work with their manufacturing partners to stock replacements in time. Some would face the need to destroy large quantities of existing bags, which clearly goes against what we're wanting to achieve with this. Having acknowledged this, I'm pleased that States Members have backed my amendment which will allow traders longer than originally proposed to get themselves prepared for the ban.

"Extending the lead-in period to 12 months will give businesses time to adapt, however, I encourage those who are able to move to more sustainable packaging by an earlier date to do so.

"I must thank Members for their support, and in particular Deputy Inna Gardiner, whose proposition in June 2020 gave the department the clear mandate to look specifically at this issue and draft up this new legislation which has been approved today."

The chargeable bags fall under two categories:

  • a plastic bag for life, which is a carrier bag with or without a handle made of recyclable plastic with a wall thickness of 50 microns or above
  • a paper bag for life, which is a carrier bag with or without a handle made of recyclable paper to a weight of 170gsm or above

The decision to include paper bags in the legislation is to encourage Islanders to bring their own bags when shopping and to change behaviour away from a throwaway culture.

Certain bags will be exempt, including bin liners, dog poo bags and nappy sacks, these can be purchased and used for their intended purpose.

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