A small bakery in Winscombe, North Somerset, has refused to join in a ’green’ scheme to ban plastic bags in the village, arguing the proposed replacement reusable bags are too expensive.

The new scheme has been introduced by environmental group Winscombe Zero Waste. The new bags, introduced two weeks ago, are made from natural fibre jute. They are on sale in two butcher’s shops, a hardware store, a shoe shop and a carpet shop in the village.

"We are expected to charge our customers £2.50 for a reusable "environmental" shopping bag, which comes from India," Caroline Hawkins, joint owner of Birds Bakery, told British Baker. "What a contradiction. Workers are paid a small amount to make the bags and then they’re shipped half way across the world."

Bakery owner Hawkins said that Birds had recently put up its prices because of raw material costs. "So there’s no way I’m charging customers £2.50 for a bag on top of this. I think that consumers should have the choice. If they want to buy a reusable one then fine, but I’m not going to refuse to hand out our paper and plastic bags."

Elsewhere, the town of Modbury in Devon became the first in the UK to introduce a voluntary ban on plastic bags in May. All 43 traders agreed to stop stocking them. In August, the village of Llandysilio, Pembrokeshire, also introduced a scheme with reusable canvas alternatives.

The Liberal Democrats called for the introduction of a plastic bag tax at its party conference. They said companies should be fined if they failed to meet new legal targets for reducing packaging sent to landfill.