Saturday, February 15, 2014
Victoria's Green Matters - 13th February 2014
The subject of plastic carrier bags has been in the news again this week. Instead of placing a mandatory 5p charge on all plastic carrier bags, the government has complicated the issue by trying to exempt some smaller stores as well as paper or fully biodegradable bags (not currently available).
Why this unnecessary complication? Why can’t we just follow the example of Wales and the Republic of Ireland and have a mandatory charge? The Republic of Ireland imposed the charge in 2002 and has achieved a 90% reduction in the use of plastic bags and the charge in Wales, introduced in 2011, has achieved a 75% reduction. The results speak for themselves.
There were concerns in Wales among the smaller retailers that the imposed charge would lead to the loss of sales from unplanned shopping trips, the risk of more thefts and unfavourable customer reaction but their experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
Plastic bags are made from the waste products of the oil industry so it is not a resource issue but a question of damaging waste when the bags are not disposed of properly. They cause countless problems to wildlife, both on land and at sea. If you have ever seen pictures of wildlife affected thus, you will understand.
The real answer to the problem is, of course, to stop producing the bags in the first place. Many of our European neighbours stopped having them, particularly in supermarkets, many years ago and they seem to manage very well.
Victoria Nicholls. Transition Deal.