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A charge for plastic bags? Just ban them!
We used eight billion plastic bags in supermarkets last year. Please help us stop using them by simply not stocking them.
by Victoria Bischoff on Aug 01, 2012 at 11:41Follow @VBischoff
Plastic bags are bad.
They are bad for the environment, litter our country and endanger wildlife.
Yet, although we all know this, we Brits used some eight BILLION carrier bags for our supermarket shopping last year. This is the second year this number has risen since a government campaign bought the total down from over 12 billion in 2006.
England, with a population of around 52 million, is by far the worst culprit, with shoppers using some 6.8 billion bags. In comparison, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, which together have a population of around 10 million, used a total of 1.2 billion.
Despite this, England is the only country not to be seriously considering introducing a levy on plastic bags – Wales has charged 5p a bag since October last year, Northern Ireland is bringing in a charge next year, and Scotland is currently consulting on a similar tax.
However, while the stats indicate a small charge on plastic bags would help encourage shoppers to switch to using recyclable bags or ‘bags for life’, I say we go one step further and just get rid of the single-use ones altogether.
If you don’t take your own bag with you when you go shopping then you fork out for as many recyclable bags as you need. End of story.
They've done it across the water in Los Angeles and San Francisco so why not here? In fact, some stores in the UK are already on board. Health store Holland and Barrett became the first high street chain to introduce a ban on plastic bags back in 2010.
I say this in the full knowledge that when I nip down to Tesco for a few bits in my lunch-break or on my way home from work I often grab one of these mightily convenient environmental hazards as I never seem to have one of the many bags for life I’ve previously bought with me.
It’s not a habit I’m proud of, and am working on breaking it. But like any smoker trying to quit, I just wish shops would help me out a bit and stop leaving free packs of cigarettes/plastic bags lying around in full view at the end of their check-out counters.
The figures plainly show that the government’s recent campaign to get the nation to cut back on plastic bags is running out of steam – something more needs to be done.
I’m just not sure charging 2p, 5p or even 10p for a carrier bag will give us the kick up the behind we need to ensure we remember to pop a recyclable bag into our pocket before leaving the house.
Taking the bad bags out of the equation completely, however, will.
More about this:
What others are saying
- Plastic bag figures
- Call for levy on single-use plastic bags in England
- NGOs join forces to break England’s bag habit
- Los Angeles bans plastic bags in supermarkets
- Holland and Barrett becomes first major retailer to ban plastic bags
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