I support the recent introduction of a compulsory 5p charge for single use plastic bags. I think this is a step forward that will make people think twice before throwing bags away, helping protect the environment.

IĀ also thinkĀ that using paper or biodegradable alternatives to plastic packaging is preferable, and I hope that the adoption of the charge will send a clear signal to supermarkets to move in that direction.

There will always be a need for some form of single use bag for impulse buys. For these bags the Government’s aim is a genuinely biodegradable plastic bag that meets defined criteria and which can also be identified and separated in waste recovery and treatment operations.

In the meantime, the Government will continue to work with industry and academic experts to review existing standards for biodegradability. At this stage there does not appear to be a biodegradable bag of sufficient quality for them to be exempted, but I will continue to watch with interest for developments in this area.

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