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Groups call for plastic bag tax

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 01, 2012

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Environmental groups are demanding the introduction of a levy on single-use plastic bags.

England is the only part of the UK which has no plans for a charge, and South West-based Surfers Against Sewage, along with the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy and the Marine Conservation Society, are calling for one to be brought in.

The blight of plastic carriers on the environment was first raised by the Devon town of Modbury, which became the first community in Europe to ban them.

The call comes after the latest figures showed the number of carrier bags being given out by supermarkets rose by more than five per cent to nearly eight billion last year across the UK – the second annual rise in a row.

But in Wales, where a 5p charge was introduced last October, the amount of single-use bags being taken home has fallen significantly.

The organisations say plastic bags end up littering England's streets, countryside and beaches, while in the sea they can entangle or be swallowed by wildlife.

Most plastic takes an estimated 450 to 1,000 years to degrade at sea, but plastic may never fully degrade but simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces.

Samantha Harding, CPRE "Stop The Drop" campaign manager, said bag levies had been shown to work in Wales and in Ireland, where plastic bag use fell by 90 per cent following the introduction of a charge.

"A levy is coming to Northern Ireland and Scotland is already consulting on one. Why must the English countryside be the last to benefit from good environmental policies?" she asked.

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  • nicold  |  August 08 2012, 7:38PM

    The supermarket bags are recycled by many people, who use it to put rubbish in. With a ban this just creates more need for people to go out and buy similar bags, so more will be produced! At the moment the supermarkets are subsidising and don't seem to mind doing this!

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  • exebomb  |  August 08 2012, 10:18AM

    Great comments, yes if we are going to be charged for bags then tax the supermarkets for excessive packaging - do we really need bananas and skined fruit and veg in bags?

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  • rogerh3  |  August 08 2012, 12:00AM

    Compared to other packaging, these bags use very little raw material." But they use a lot more than nothing, especially when you produce a trillion of them every year. .

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  • Chunder123  |  August 07 2012, 1:25AM

    with the size of the population increasing we're gonna need a big dumspter

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  • sl4bber  |  August 06 2012, 10:26PM

    Compared to other packaging, these bags use very little raw material. A One litre Water bottle will make six bags, a small detergent bottle will make 12 bags, a potato crisp six pack will make 5 bags, All of which are single use containers - at least the plastic bag has an after-life, usually as a bin liner or in a corner shop. Talk about Lemmings

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  • Sinjis_Things  |  August 06 2012, 6:12PM

    Far better than making people pay for plastic bags would be for the UK and other governments to get together an pass laws so that the manufacturers have to make a plastic bag that is biodegradable.

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  • Dan_001  |  August 06 2012, 12:21PM

    This is a really good and important initiative. People really need to think twice about consuming plastic bags every time they shop. I was in Wales recently and they have to charge 5p a bag, even in MacDonalds. It has really worked.

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  • evelyn40  |  August 06 2012, 12:15PM

    Well Sinjis-Things, all I can say is Paris is Paris a law unto its self. I lived in Brittany for 21years and plastic bags were banned several years ago. I have returned for the last 3years on holiday to several regions of France where supermarkets are still minus plastic bags.

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  • Sinjis_Things  |  August 06 2012, 11:19AM

    evelyn4 said, "Do what they did in France, give a date when all plastic bags in supermarkets will be banned, and do it!! Shoppers will soon remember to take their own shoppers. It worked." Rubbish. Plastic bags in shops and supermarkets are not banned in France. A few weeks ago when I was in Paris plastic bags were still in use.

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  • globalloon  |  August 06 2012, 8:22AM

    so much ignorance on the comments here. the suggestion is for tax on SINGLE USE plastic bags; to encourage people to RE-USE stronger bags, thereby reducing the number of SINGLE USE bags disposed of. It's really quite simple unless you are either unable to read or have lived in a cave all your life.

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