Wales already have it, Northern Ireland will introduce it in 2013, Scotland is ‘consulting’ on it, and environmental groups are now urging England to consider it too, ‘It’ being, of course, the controversial carrier bag tax.
Recent figures released by the waste reduction group WRAP, show that the amount of supermarket carrier bags handed out in 2011 increased by more than 5% on the previous year, and the new figures have angered environmental organisations such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the Marine Conservation Society, and Keep Britain Tidy.
As a result, the organisations believe that England should follow in the footsteps of Wales, where carrier bag use has fallen significantly since the 5p charge was introduced last October, and bring in a “small levy on carrier bags across England” in an attempt to reduce public demand.
A spokesperson for CPRE’s “stop the drop” campaign said carrier bag levies have been shown to work in Wales, they will soon be implemented in Northern Ireland, and Scotland is consulting on the issue, so “Why must the English countryside be the last to benefit from good environmental policies?”
With pressure growing on all sides, the British Government may have no choice but to add the carrier bag levy to their autumn agenda, and a representative for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said, “We want to work with retailers to help them lift their game to cut the number of bags they hand out.”
According to EU statistics, the average EU citizen uses approximately 500 plastic carrier bags each year, and so if we all do our bit to reuse, reduce and recycle the plastic carrier bags we have at home, we may just beat the carrier bag levy, for a year or two anyway!