Plastic bags: forget the ad campaign, just tax them

by Stephen Tall on April 7, 2009

Today’s Mirror reports on the Government’s latest initiative to cut down on pastic bag use – an advertising campaign:

The average shopper uses 13,000 plastic bags in their lifetime, according to a study. Research by the Department of Environment said a person gets through 160 new carrier bags each year.

Last year 9.9 billion of them were handed out in the UK. … The numbers were released to mark a new advertising campaign to urge people to re-use bags. But Lib Dem Tim Farron branded it “gimmickry” and said the Government should just tax the bags..

I’m with Tim here. At a time when public funding is facing a severe recessionary squeeze, do we really need a new ad campaign to tell people what we already know – that plastic bags are bad for the environment, and we can all of us cut down on our use of them – when we could tax their use, cutting pollution, and generating new revenue into the bargain?

Jo Swinson worte an article for LDV last September explaining the various measures to combat excess packaging that she was proposing to the 2008 Lib Dem conference – you can read it HERE.

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That’s all very well, but what about people like myself – I’ve never seen an advert about plastic bags, but have probably already now stocked up on my thirteen thousand lifetime quota of paid for reuseable bags stashed around my flat somewhere!

by Jock on April 7, 2009 at 2:33 pm. Reply #

“…and generating new revenue into the bargain?”

I shudder when I read these words!

I believe this is what critics of New Labour call a “Stealth Tax”. We should not be trying to generate new revenue into any bargain! We should set out in advance how much we need and tax to that level.

HOW we get the money is a different matter, so I wish you had said “generating the same revenue in a new and more responsible way into the bargain”.

by Tom Papworth on April 7, 2009 at 4:39 pm. Reply #

Oh, and Jock, I’m convinced that the next great environmental crisis is going to be the Bag-for-Life mountain.

And loads of them bear our logo!

I blame The Independent.

by Tom Papworth on April 7, 2009 at 4:41 pm. Reply #

Does taxing bags really work? I know there is some evidence that it does, but can we prove that this isn’t just because more people now know how harmful they are to the environment. They then, like me, might feel guilty for using one and instead just put up with the inconvenience of carrying their shopping in my arms.

On the rare occasions I shop at M&S I get to the checkout and curse myself for forgetting to bring a bag and happily stump up the 5p or 10p I need to get one. If bags cost £100 each (note that I am not advocating that) then I might be more inclined to remember to bring a bag with me.

For me, fewer bags from shops also results in me having to buy more plastic bin bags as I usually re-use the carrier bags I have for rubbish.

by Anders on April 7, 2009 at 5:32 pm. Reply #

Driving to the supermarket does far more environmental damage (and social damage, via congestion) than plastic bags ever will. Can anyone say “gesture politics”?

by sanbikinoraion on April 8, 2009 at 4:14 pm. Reply #

Thank you very much for sharing this great article. I am happy to read this post and come to know some new things related to average data of uses of plastic bags. And I am agree with your view that Plastic bag pollution is very deadly and we should not use the plastic bags it will be really helpful for environment protection.

by CDM Registration on April 9, 2009 at 1:12 pm. Reply #

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