A 5p charge for plastic bags in England does not go far enough according to the Peterborough Green Party.
The political group has welcomed the charge which comes into force on (October 5).
But it is questioning why the charge is optional for nationwide retailers with fewer than 250 members of full-time staff.
The party said: “Why not introduce the same scheme as Wales where it has been very successful even with small businesses?
“It’s a real opportunity missed to have a much stronger greener policy that really benefits the environment and we just cannot understand why this policy has been watered down.”
Despite disappointment at the scope of the new legislation, the Peterborough Greens are pleased that a charge has been introduced which they hope will reduce the amount of litter in the city.
Peterborough Green Party Coordinator Roger Proudfoot said: “The scale of the problem is vast and we have become too dependent on the convenience of single use plastic bags.
“At last the government has followed the lead in Wales where the use of single use plastic bags has dropped by over 70 per cent since the introduction of charges.”
The local Greens are concerned that much of the rubbish in the city centre ends up in the River Nene where it is carried forward.
The plastic, they say, is then picked up by seabirds and goes into their stomachs where it causes damage.
The Greens are hoping that the bag charges could be used to support litter reduction measures across the city.
Roger added: “We would like to lay down the gauntlet to all businesses levying the charge in the hope they will pick it up and help us get rid of litter once and for all by putting funding into litter reduction action.”
Ruth Fiddy, of Stanground East Ward, said: “I am fed up with seeing litter around our city and I am really pleased to hear of this new charge but am confused about the exemptions.
“Anything that reduces the amount of plastic in our environment has to be a good thing. I would like to see the charges that are collected by the businesses put into environmental projects and the charge apply to the smaller businesses too.”
The number of single-use plastic bags handed out by UK supermarkets in 2014 increased for the fifth year running to 8.5 billion.
In England, more than 7.6 billion were given out in 2014, the equivalent of 140 per person and 61,000 tonnes in total.
Wales, the first country in the UK to adopt a charge, saw a reduction in plastic bags being handed out of 79 per cent in the first three years.
For more on the plastic bag charges, including exemptions, see http://www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk/news/business/business-news/video-5p-carrier-bag-charge-law-comes-into-force-on-monday-are-you-happy-to-pay-1-6988543.
The Peterborough Greens are supporting the city council in their ‘Love Peterborough’ campaign by carrying out flash mob litter picks to highlight the litter problem and raise awareness.
To get involved in the campaign drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.