Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?

Unfortunately for Katie Perry fans, today’s post isn’t about Katie Perry or Fireworks, but the plastic bag tax.

Introduced in 2015, for plastic bags in UK stores you now pay 5p for the privilege. For you can pay a higher price for a bag for life. The scheme has been heralded as a success by the environmental lobby as the number of plastic bags that have been used has dropped by 85%. I’m not sure if the number of plastic bag makers has declined at such a rate too.

My concern comes with the motive – reducing plastic. We can all agree that single-use plastic has environmental ramifications that are less than good. But why reduce plastic when there are other alternatives? I’m not suggesting we return to the days where we use wicker baskets or shop every day and use the baskets on the front of our bikes to fill it with items. But there are alternatives – most bags for life are also made of plastic that struggles to bio-degrade. In the states they use brown paper bags – sometimes they double bag to prevent rips. The US isn’t known for their environmental credentials – especially at the moment – but not offering plastic bags in shops sees them with 100% less plastic usage than us.

My concern with this current war on plastic is where it will end. Straws, bags and bottles are easy first choices but what about things where plastic is the most appropriate product – are we going to ban that? Or swap everything for paper and then wonder where all the trees have gone? The conversation needs shifting to assess a War on Waste – particularly unnecessary waste.  Does toothpaste need to come in a tube that’s in a box? Or do we need to get deliveries that come in a bag with a box inside where the contents are then wrapped up in tissue paper? There are easy ways to reduce this waste, that covers all forms rather than trying to take down plastic.

From this, we can take some solace in that actions are being taken. I’d now like to point to our pals in Australia and let them know they should be doing more. For those that want a greater insight into Australia’s “bag rage” check out this article that talks about the reaction when stores wanted to charge for bags to reduce their use.

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