An increase in the charge for single-use carrier bags has come into force in a move welcomed by a leading environmental group.
The cost has risen from 5p per bag to 10p after the initiative was backed by MSPs earlier this year.
According to Friends of the Earth Scotland, in the first year after the charge was introduced in October 2014, there was a 80% reduction in the number of plastic bags given out, preventing the use of 650 million bags.
Sarah Moyes, the organisation’s plastic and circular economy campaigner, said: “Plastic bags are a vivid symbol of our throwaway culture and this small change will help to further reduce the number of plastic bags which end up littering our streets, burning in incinerators or sitting in landfill for hundreds of years.
“The huge success of the charge so far in cutting plastic waste shows the importance of targeted Government action in protecting the environment.
“The plastic industry opposed these moves but time has once again shown them to have been in the wrong.
“The Scottish Government recently published its draft regulations on banning single-use plastic and oxo-degradable plastic products, e.g. plastic straws, cutlery and drink stirrers.
“However, the launch date for the Deposit Return Scheme for drinks bottles and cans has been delayed again until July 2022. This is despite the Deposit Return Scheme being announced in the 2017 Programme for Government.
“In order to fully tackle Scotland’s plastic crisis, we need the Scottish Government to move quickly to bring forward further action including the forthcoming ban on environmentally harmful single-use items like plastic straws, plates and cutlery.”
A previous Scottish Government consultation found 80% of Scots supported increasing the charge to 10p.
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham told Holyrood’s environment committee in February that the change had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “We have already affected a massive change in the use of these carrier bags.
“We know there are very significant benefits, we have seen them already, and I would imagine we will go on seeing them.
“It had been our intention to lay the regulations in the first half of last year, but of course the legislative timetable had to be reconsidered in the light of the legislative requirements arising out of the pandemic.”