Put UP the price of bags for life to 70p

Plea to raise cost so shop­pers use car­ri­ers again

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Edi­tor

GREEN campaigner­s are call­ing for a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the cost of re­us­able plas­tic ‘bags for life’ amid ev­i­dence that su­per­mar­kets are not de­liv­er­ing on prom­ises to cut waste.

Only a charge as high as 70p a bag will en­cour­age peo­ple to re­mem­ber to take car­ri­ers they have pre­vi­ously bought when they go shop­ping rather than buy­ing a new one each time, Green­peace said.

The call came as a study found seven out of ten su­per­mar­kets in­creased their use of plas­tic last year, with the to­tal across all the main­stream gro­cery chains ris­ing from an es­ti­mated 886,021 tons to 903,126 tons.

Sales of bags for life at eight of the chains rose by 30 per cent from 2018 to this year, to around 1.2bil­lion. The to­tal sold by all ten was 1.5bil­lion, an av­er­age of around 54 per house­hold.

Shop­pers have been switch­ing to heavy-duty bags for life – cost­ing 10p to 20p – af­ter the Gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a 5p levy on sin­gle-use car­ri­ers. But many peo­ple end up keep­ing them at home rather than us­ing them each time they go shop­ping.

The bags con­tain three times more plas­tic than stan­dard car­ri­ers, mak­ing them less en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly to pro­duce and dis­pose of. The Daily Mail’s

Turn The Tide On Plas­tic cam­paign has high­lighted the blight of plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

Campaigner­s say the de­ci­sion by the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment to bring in a 60p charge on heavy-duty bags led to a 90 per cent cut in their use. Mor­risons noted a 38 per cent fall in sales af­ter it raised the price to 30p in 31 stores.

The de­tails are con­tained in a re­port from the En­vi­ron­ment In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency cam­paign group and Green­peace. Green­peace UK’s Fiona Ni­cholls said: ‘Bags for life are in­creas­ingly be­ing treated as bags for a week, fu­elling rather than fix­ing our plas­tics cri­sis. Su­per­mar­kets are pump­ing out more plas­tic than ever – and so-called bags for life are a symp­tom of that.

‘Re­tail­ers must raise the charge to 70p and, if that fails, move to a com­plete ban on plas­tic bags for life.’

The study pro­duced a league ta­ble of stores that have done the most to re­duce all forms of plas­tic use. In first place is Waitrose, with Mor­risons sec­ond and Sains­bury’s third. The worst per­former was Ger­man bud­get chain Aldi, just be­hind US-owned Asda.

Aldi said it was work­ing to re­duce plas­tic pack­ag­ing by 25 per cent by 2023 but ‘we know there is much more to be done’.

The plas­tic bag levy was made law in Scot­land in 2014 fol­low­ing a pi­o­neer­ing Daily Mail cam­paign.

In its first year the charge led to an 80 per cent drop in the use of throw­away car­ri­ers.

The UK Gov­ern­ment brought in the 5p levy south of the Border in 2015.

Con­ser­va­tion­ists have said the charge on sin­gle-use car­rier bags has helped to re­duce the num­ber of plas­tic bags found on beaches.

Mean­while, Scots face a new charge of at least 20p on sin­gle-use drinks cups af­ter the SNP con­firmed plans for a ‘latte levy’.

The charge is set to be in­tro­duced in the Cir­cu­lar Econ­omy Bill, with the level to be fixed af­ter a con­sul­ta­tion.

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