Since the carrier bag levy was introduced in October 2015, small retailers have been at a disadvantage. 

While Supermarkets and larger retail employers have seen the use of carrier bags plummet, we have seen little change in consumer habits. Why should customers bring their own bags when they can pick one up from us, then reuse it in the supermarket later in the week? 

Some small retailers have been charging for bags all along and covering their business expense. Others, like myself, have been giving bags away and absorbing the cost. We often ask customers if they need a bag, rather than just handing one over. 

It seems that the carrier bag levy will be rolled out to all retailers in England, and there’s even talk of raising the charge to 10p. This will surely see the end of one- use carrier bags in favour of stronger, reusable bags.

The message to the public will be clear. The playing field will be even and all retailers will be doing a bit more to reduce plastic waste.

It will be interesting to see how the charge is managed. While I look forward to finally covering my costs, the proceeds will be a welcome boost to the money we donate to our chosen charity, Dove House Hospice. The advertising will need to be clear and concise with a running total posted monthly to advise customers how much charitable income has been generated from the bag levy, turning a potentially unwelcome charge into a positive message.

Larger stores seem to have missed a trick with this message. The occasional store will proudly display a monthly or annual amount donated, but it doesn’t seem to be widely advertised. 

I’m sure there are retailers out there that will still be deciding how to donate the money raised three years on, but surely the power of advertising a charitable act to the local community is an opportunity not to be missed. 

Once again, I hope independent retailers can lead the way and show the big boys that community matters and we support charity openly and proudly.

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