Retail groups oppose council plastic bag ban

Two retailer support groups have joined forces to petition councils in London against a proposal that would give them the power to stop shops giving free plastic bags to customers.

The London Local Authorities (Shopping Bags) Bill had its second reading in the Commons yesterday, but remains open until 5pm today for those with views to submit them.

The Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium say the move would create “an army of council bag-ban enforcers” who would have the power to randomnly target shops and issue fines.

The groups claim the bill is excessive and rides roughshod over a voluntary agreement retailers came to with the government last year to reduce the environmental impact of bags by 25 per cent by the end of this year.

BRC director of business environment, Jane Milne said: “Local councils should be supporting retailers’ work, for example on increasing recycling, not damaging customers’ ability to shop and retailers’ ability to trade.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said the measure would be particularly harmful to small retailers.

He said: “The proposal would ban not only giving bags away free but also making bags available for sale. This is excessive and economically very dangerous. As it stands they have done no analysis of the likely impact of this measure on the retail economy in London.”