Shop­pers ‘should pay 40p for ev­ery plas­tic bag they use’

The Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Jake Hur­furt

STORES have been urged to make their plas­tic bags much more ex­pen­sive to cut pol­lu­tion.

Green cam­paign­ers want shops to charge around 40p for ‘bags for life’ – which usu­ally cost 10p – to re­flect their en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Many stores have been phas­ing out flim­sier sin­gle-use bags since the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a 5p levy on them in favour of the thicker, re­us­able ver­sions.

Re­searchers es­ti­mate the thicker bags need to be used be­tween four and six times be­fore they make up for the ex­tra plas­tic needed to make them com­pared to sin­gle-use bags. But green ac­tivists are wor­ried that he bags for life are so in­ex­pen­sive that shop­pers will dis­card them af­ter only a cou­ple of uses.

Dr Laura Fos­ter, head of pol­lu­tion at the Ma­rine Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, called for the stronger bags to have a higher price tag to re­flect how many times they need to be used.

She said: ‘We would like to see a price along the lines of 40p to re­flect the car­bon foot­print rel­a­tive to a sin­gle-use plas­tic bag.’

Al­though she ul­ti­mately wants to stop peo­ple buy­ing bags al­to­gether, she thinks rais­ing the price for heav­ier car­ri­ers will also ed­u­cate con­sumers about the need to use them re­peat­edly to off­set the higher en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of mak­ing them.

Over the past two years, super­mar­kets in­clud­ing Tesco and Sains­burys have scrapped their sin­gle-use bags for heav­ier ones. Marks and Spencer has be­come the lat­est com­pany to phase out the 5p bags in favour of the bag-for-life ver­sions, made from re­cy­cled plas­tic.

The in­tro­duc­tion of the 5p charge in 2015 led to an 86 per cent re­duc­tion in the num­ber of car­rier bags used, tak­ing 13 bil­lion plas­tic bags out of cir­cu­la­tion in two years.

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