Becca Jane St Clair

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No Plastic Bags in Wales!

If you’re going on holiday to Wales, don’t forget to pack some reusable bags for your shopping, including souvenir shopping! If you want a plastic bag, you will have to pay 5p for each bag. Everywhere. From Tesco to the corner shop, farmer’s market stands to tourism sites. There is no escaping the plastic bag “ban”, though there are some exceptions. Using very small plastic bags with no handles or small paper bags is still free.

There are also certain items that you can put in a plastic bag and not be charged, such as fruits and vegetables….however, those have to be the only items in that bag when you walk away from the till. From their informative website:

“You could have loose apples, potatoes and pears in one bag and not have to charge. If you then placed a box of tea bags in there too, you would need to apply the charge.

This is to prevent a loop hole in the law. A person can not put an apple in one bag with lots of other shopping, a potato in another bag with lots of other shopping, a lettuce in another etc. and get all their single use carrier bags for free.”

Which is quite clever, because I could see someone attempting to do that!

The plastic ban also brings up a different kind of disposeable bag…what about fast food? Here’s what the website has to say:

“If you went to a fast food restaurant and purchased a packet of fries and a burger then the fries can be placed in a free bag as they are only part wrapped and you would not be expected to place these in a reusable bag as there could be some food safety risks. If the burger is also placed in the bag, then the bag would be charged for. This is because it is safe to place wrapped food into a reusable bag and the purpose of these Regulations is to change customer behaviour every time they shop and in every situation.”

Wow. Tim and I didn’t eat any fast food while we were away, so I hadn’t thought about the impact of ordering fast food at all. Imagine being charged an extra 5p each time you ate at McDonalds!

I’m also curious as to where the 5p you pay for a bag goes…and the answer is that the shops can do whatever they like with the 5p, though the Welsh Assembly expects “that the proceeds should be passed on to charities or good causes in Wales, and in particular to environmental projects.”. So…any time you need a plastic bag in Wales and pay 5p for it, you could just be lining the pockets of the shop. Or, you could be donating 5p to a worthy cause…hang on a minute, if I pay 5p for a bag I’m helping out charity? That actually doesn’t sound too bad….is this really going to prevent people from asking for plastic bags and bringing reusable bags?

I didn’t know about the charge before we went to Wales, but fortunately, Tim and I always carried folding reusable bags in our rucksacks, and our house at home is loaded with canvas, burlap, and plastic shopping bags — Tim would probably say I collect them, and he might be right. I like to pick up bags when we are on holiday because it brings a smile to my face when I pull that one out to use. For example, when we were in Austria, the local grocery store was called “Billa”. We purchased one of their extra-large shopping bags we affectionately call “BillaBag” and I can take that bag into town for a shopping trip and not need any other bags. I also have a bag I purchased in Walt Disney World on our honeymoon, a bag I bought on my first visit to Stonehenge, and the familiar blue IKEA tarp bags, which always remind me of my time working there. I purchased a bag from the Vale of Rheidol Railway on this trip!

I’m also glad I stuffed a bunch of carrier bags into the caravan for rubbish, or we would have had to purchase rubbish bags!

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