Professor Isabelle Szmigin, Professor of Marketing, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham on the announcement of a Bill to introduce a mandatory charge of plastic shopping bags:

“Whether or not the 5p levy on plastic bags could be described as ‘a bold new bill’ is clearly debatable. It should, however, be taken seriously and it has positive advantages for consumers and businesses. Certainly consumers may be a little disgruntled to begin with but the experience in Wales and Ireland suggests that they will soon get over this. Remembering to bring your own bags for shopping will be as normal as picking up an extra chocolate bar at the checkout.

“There is no harm in anything that makes us more thoughtful shoppers even if we have to be forced to do it. And what is the benefit for businesses? Sturdier reusable bags will become the norm and this allows retailers to show-off their sustainability credentials in terms of what these bags are made from, as well as interesting opportunities for colour and design in the advertising messages on the bags.  If the money is used for good causes then even better; just as with smoking, regulating behaviour can be a measure for good.”

Professor Szmigin can be contacted on +44 (0)7967 373330 or

For more information please contact Deborah Walker, Head of Communications, University of Birmingham: Tel +44 (0)121 414 6681. Out of hours please call +44 (0) 7789 921165 or email the Press Office.