Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, today warmly welcomed the news that retailers across Scotland have witnessed a staggering reduction in the number of single use carrier bags handed out since the 5p charge came into effect 12 months ago.
Data from major grocery retailers indicate a reduction in bag use of around 80 per cent since 20 October 2014 – equivalent to at least 650 million fewer bags being handed out annually compared to ‘business as usual’ in previous years – with funds of around £6.7 million being donated to good causes as a result of the charge.
Boots, one of Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment signatories, has reported an estimated 80 per cent reduction in carrier bag use in Scotland.
Mr Beattie said:
“This charge has clearly proven to be a great success. The sensible thing is to keep our costs down when we go shopping, and taking our own bags not only keeps more money in our wallets but is much better for the environment.
“Prior to the charge Scotland was the worst in the UK for using carrier bags, with over 800 million new single-use carrier bags being used every single year.
“The efforts of the Scottish people to reduce this use should be strongly applauded. In one year we have taking a major step towards tackling litter, reducing waste and improving the environment. With almost £7 million raised for good causes on top of this, it’ll be exciting to see where we are in another year’s time!”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:
“With retailers in Scotland reporting a reduction of 80% in the use of single use carrier bags, it’s evident that Scottish shoppers have embraced a new shopping habit. It’s not always easy to change our habits, but Scotland is proving it has this in the bag.
“Many organisations have already agreed to donate money raised by the 5p charge to good causes, by signing up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment. Other retailers across the country are now being urged to follow suit.”
Nationwide retailers that signed up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment – an agreement to disclose information on the charge, and donations made, to a central publicly available portal – are reporting that various charities up and down the country have also benefited from funds raised by the charge, with at least £6.7 million being donated to good causes.
Morrisons, the Co-operative and Waitrose have indicated a reduction of 80 per cent, with Asda reporting a drop of 90 per cent, while Sainsburys have witnessed 100 per cent reduction of single use carrier bags as they no longer offer them to shoppers.
Stephen Watkins, head of customer experience North & East Scotland at Boots UK, added:
“We want to help our customers care for the environment while making a difference in their local communities. We’ve seen a really positive effect in our stores in Scotland since the introduction of the charge in 2014, with an estimated reduction of around 80 per cent in carrier bag usage. We’ve also been able to offer significant support to Macmillan Cancer Support and the important work that they do for those affected by cancer in Scotland.
“From 5 October 2015 we are donating the net proceeds of the sale of these bags to BBC Children In Need. Together with our customers we can help make a difference to our environment and support community projects across Scotland the rest of the UK.”
Colin Beattie MSP has today signalled support for the UN gender equality ‘HeforShe’ campaign. The campaign seeks to build solidarity amongst men for women’s equality as a basic human right that benefits all of society.
The campaign asks men across the world to sign the HeForShe Commitment, which commits them to standing up against discrimination and violence against women and has already been signed by almost 480,000 men across the world including the Presidents of the USA, Japan and Malawi.
Colin Beattie has called on men across Midlothian to join him in signing and to push the number of commitments to over 500,000. Colin also called for David Cameron to join other global leaders, including President Obama, to become an Impact Champion for the campaign.
Commenting, Colin said:
“Women make up more than half of the world’s population – yet women and girls across the world still face stark inequalities, discrimination, and violence simply because of their gender. We all, men and women, must stand in solidarity against this injustice.
“The SNP is unequivocal on this – gender equality is a human rights issue and the realisation of true equality will benefit all of society.
“I would encourage all men in Midlothian to log on to heforshe.org and sign the commitment. The campaign is tantalizingly close to reaching half a million commitments – with a concerted effort Scotland can help them reach this mark.
“It is disappointing, however, that while Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world have signed up as an ‘Impact Champion’ David Cameron has avoided taking on this role. Mr Cameron made big play of his commitment to equality in his conference speech this week – taking this simple step will show this is more than just idle words.”
Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, today attended the 2015 Scottish Older People’s Assembly. Held at the Scottish Parliament, this assembly convened to convey the experiences and concerns of the older people in Scotland directly to parliamentarians.
SOPA’s local meetings, like the one held earlier this year in Dalkeith, came to a focus today in the workshops held during this year’s conference. These workshops were intended to identify how best to highlight the priorities of the older people of Scotland, including issues about community safety, health, and transportation.
Commenting, Colin Beattie said:
“I was glad to attend the Scottish Older People’s Assembly this year. The assembly is a wonderful opportunity to hear discussion and debate from an incredibly diverse group of people.
"I was delighted to meet members of the Midlothian SOPA at today’s assembly. I commend them on all the work they do to ensure that a voice for older people is heard in our community and throughout Scotland. The workshops held today at Parliament have brought to our attention the concerns most important to Scotland’s older people and we must ensure that these concerns are being answered.”