5p charge for plastic bags – Welcome!

I welcome the 5p charge on plastic bags in English supermarkets.  If only it were more than 5p.

From today, shops employing over 250 people, a plastic bag will not be given away freely but a charge of 5p will be enforced as The Single Use Carrier Bags Charges Order 2015 comes in.  If only it were every store.

Staggeringly, in England last year 7.64 billion plastic bags were used, up from 2010’s figure of 6.29 billion.  Wow.  So much cheap plastic used probably only once and discarded of.

The amount of fresh resources going into plastic bags has actually fallen with manufacturers using recycled materials more and more – both discarded plastic bags and other plastics – to fuel this obsession.  The numbers have dropped from an all time high in 2006, but without doubt, the English have a love of the plastic carrier, as illustrated by a lot of speculative front pages today warning of near rioting today at the till.  Ultimately the plastic comes finite resources.  This reliance on plastic needs to stop.  Let’s stop using plastic bags altogether.  Think about it.

The plastic bag, discarded and blowing in the wind is testament to our consumerist, throw-away society.  Our goods are carried home, consumed, and this by-product is often thrown away.  Of course, some use bags again for carrying their shopping or for something else.  But the plastic does stretch and often cannot carry shopping more than a few times before breaking.

Those bags disposed of may end up in the rubbish bin and then make it to land fill where they will take thousands of years to decompose.  Or they may be recycled.  Or they may be become litter.

The amount of plastic that is ending up in our waterways, and ultimately ending up in the sea is utterly disgusting.  This is a worldwide problem and something that needs dealing with.  Now.

Hopefully this charge will deter people using plastic carrier bags.  To some 5p per bag will cause no dent but to others it will be a matter of principle.  “I’m not paying for something I used to get for free”.  Looking around the British Isles, introduction of charges over the past few years have had a very positive effect in reducing use.

Options are to reuse the mountain of plastic bags that most have hoarded away, to use ‘Bags for life’ or to use material bags.  For years I have used the latter.  They environmental cost to make them may be higher but do last.  I have used the same two bags for years and years.

Trusty Malibu bag.



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