In the Queen’s Speech, the Government announced that, from October next year, shoppers will have to pay 5p for a plastic bag.
But the levy will only apply to Britain’s supermarkets, which hand out 7 billion carrier bags a year.
Stroud town councillor Eva Ward says that, while she welcomes the initiative, it doesn’t go far enough.
“Five pence is not enough to deter people though it is a welcome start,” said Councillor Ward. “It will only apply to the supermarkets and not to smaller retailers. For this initiative to work it has to be about changing people’s habits.”
Councillor Ward is spearheading the town council initiative called STOP: Stroud Town Opposed to Plastic (bags and packaging).
The STOP campaign aims to raise public awareness of the waste of plastic bags and encourage businesses and supermarkets to offer alternatives such as paper bags, which are biodegradable, or long-life bags.
“We can’t afford to be a throw-away society any longer,” said Councillor John Marjoram. “We can’t wait until October 2015 to do something. We must tackle the issue now. Time is running out.”
A 5p levy in Wales has shown significant success in reducing the number of carrier bags given out in the country by 75 per cent. Northern Ireland has also brought in a charge, with Scotland set to do so this year.
In England, the Government has been under sustained pressure to introduce a fee for single use bags, which waste resources, cause litter and can injure marine wildlife.
Councillor Marjoram said the levy will serve little purpose if it excludes biodegradable bags, paper bags and small retailers.
“We all must learn to save resources, to not be wasteful. This levy will simply confuse customers about when they can and can’t have single-use bags and defeat the purpose of the initiative in the first place,” he said.