Plastic carrier bags may be convenient, practical, and reliable, but with ongoing pressure to reduce the amount of plastic waste clogging up the environment, governments and ‘green’ groups are waging a war on this staple of everyday life.
Carrier bag bans, taxes and levies are now firmly in place across parts of the country, and indeed, the world, and if you think 5p is a bit steep for a single use plastic bag, spare a thought for our European counterparts, who are facing a complete ban, or have to pay as much as 25p for the privilege.
This may be ‘new’ to the western world, but countries such as South Africa, Japan and China have been living with carrier bag levies and bans for many years, and if you think we are getting a tough deal, you might be interested to know what is going on in the rest of the world…
In the Indian town of Panchayats, the central government has notified its residents and traders that anyone found with a plastic carrier bag less than 40 microns thick will receive a fine of Rs. 100 (£1.15). The fines will be introduced on 15th September 2012, and schoolchildren will be “targeted as instruments of spreading awareness among friends and family.”
In Manila, Philippines, a new regulation has been passed by the government to ensure that businesses comply with the “plastic bag reduction ordinance” and collect the “plastic recovery fee” for every carrier bag they hand out. To comply with the ordinance, convenience stores, malls, gas stations and supermarkets are required to install CCTV cameras, and give out reusable carrier bags as incentives.
A thirteen year-old girl from Illinois has managed to persuade her local governor to veto the proposed “Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act”, which would prohibit communities in the region from passing plastic carrier bag bans. Collecting over 170,000 signatures on her petition, Abby Goldberg has made it her school project to get a local ban on all single-use plastic bags, and stated, “I’ve learned that no matter what your age, you can make a difference.”
Plastic carrier bags remain free of charge across most of England, so it might be wise to stockpile next time you go shopping, and avoid those bans and taxes that may be making their way to our stores.