The plastic carrier bag has been around for as long as many of us can remember. A simple and convenient packaging solution for our weekly shop, kid’s PE kits, and packed lunches, they are practical, reliable and reusable, and yet, they make headlines almost every day, and quite often for the wrong reasons.
In an attempt to reduce the amount of plastic waste on our planet, governments and councils in cities around the world are opting for carrier bag bans, taxes and levies, but when you consider that plastic carrier bags account for just 1% of household waste; one could say that this simply distracts attention from larger environmental issues.
Carrier bag taxes are already part of everyday life in Wales, they will soon arrive in Northern Ireland, and Scotland is currently ‘consulting’ on the issue, so it looks like we may all have to pay to use a plastic bag in future, but until then, here are some carrier bag stories currently making headlines around the world:
While the City of Los Angeles imposes a complete ban on plastic carrier bags from next year, Finland has a “law” in place to prevent the City of Helsinki following suit. A Finnish Green City Councillor, Minerva Krohn, stated, “Bans are not the way to get rid of plastic waste” and that the “getting rid of bags would remove an excellent channel for recycling plastic”.
Scotland may still be ‘consulting’ on a plastic carrier bag tax or ban, but the government has already released information stating, “it expects the charge will require little enforcement input from local authorities” and that the public will be urged to “shop a shopkeeper” to support carrier bag controls.
If you think a 5p carrier bag tax is a bit steep, spare a thought for supermarket shoppers in Bulgaria where the government has decided to increase their carrier bag tax by 233%! By 2014, a single use plastic carrier bag will cost as much as 0.28€ (approx 22p), as the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment attempt to lower the level of plastic consumption by 1.2 billion units.