Facing growing calls from local government and even from within the National Party for government leadership on the issue of single-use plastic bags, new Associate Environment Minister Scott Simpson looks likely to opt for a levy rather than a ban – and that could be good news for local charities. …
But Simpson told a break-out meeting of delegates at this weekend’s National Party conference that he likes the UK model, where retailers charge shoppers a small fee for plastic bags and keep the money themselves to distribute to charities of their choice. …
“There are a variety of models around the world but I quite like … the model they use in the UK which is you are charged a levy. It is 5p a bag, so it’s not a ban but if you want a plastic bag at the supermarket you pay for it – 5p.
”Now, the trick that they do – which again seems to be working quite well for them – is that that 5p doesn’t go to the Government, it doesn’t go to the council, it doesn’t sort of disappear into the big consolidated fund.
“The retailer keeps that 5p and then the retailer then distributes that money to charitable causes of their choice. And there is a self-auditing process, and certainly it was my experience when visiting the UK that actually the model seemed, on the face of it, to be working quite well.”
I’m not convinced of the merits of a tax on plastic bags, but if there is to be one I’d much rather the revenue goes to charities rather than to central or local Government. That at least reassures the tax is being done for environmental reasons, rather than just as another way to raise revenue.