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24th March 2017
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We have Mail: plastic bags 2
I have followed the plastic bag issue with interest, and as with many green issues, feel the facts are not as clear cut as it first appears. I like to consider myself 'green', and I, like most people who do use supermarket disposable bags, reuse them as bin liners, as apart from being free, I find them stronger than liners that are available to buy.
Were you aware that in Ireland, the number of plastic bin liners sold rocketed when plastic bags incurred a charge? There was overall little reduction in the number of plastic bags used when these paid for bags were included in the total. There is also the hidden issue that the people most affected by the ban will be poorer people who will now have to buy bin liners, or dispose of rubbish without wrapping, which is likely to cause more environmental mess.
Also, most supermarket bags are now made of biodegradable plastic, and so do not last very long. In fact some almost decompose by time I get them home! You no longer see them wilting on road verges and trees, where most of the rubbish is now food packaging or the ring-pull can containers which cause so much damage to wildlife. Nobody appears to have considered banning these.
And last but not least, supermarket bags are the only form of plastic packaging which it is easy to reuse, either as storage bags or bin liners. Why then consider banning these when it is perfectly OK to buy a dress in a plastic bag without tie handles that is far less easy to reuse? Paper bags are likely to replace plastic bags, but these are more energy intensive to produce, and end up as landfill as most are not suitable for many other purposes.
As with many green issues, the case is not as clear cut as it would first appear. These articles (and others) outline some more issues.
Hope this is of interest!
More on the plastic bag tax…
The plastic bag levy was introduced in 2002 in Ireland and has been an unqualified success. Everyone just keeps a stash of heavy-duty recyclable bags in their cars to do the shopping now. I don’t even know what the current charge is (22c?) because I avoid as much as possible having to purchase plastic bags in the supermarket or corner shop. The government are happy with it also as it brings in plenty of revenue from the unconverted - though it’s dropping;
Managing Director, Highway Wholesalers
20th June 2014