by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
In October 2013, after the gods only know how long, it was announced that the government has at long last decided to follow the lead of some other countries by introducing a charge, albeit a paltry 5 pence, which is about 8 cents Euro and about the same in US money, for plastic bags from 2015. Better late than never I suppose but one can but asked what (a) has kept them that long and (b) why will it almost two years before the levy will be introduced.
Now, in a way that only politicians can, they appear to have completely confused a simple issue by – firstly – making biodegradable bags exempt, which will clearly do nothing to prevent bags littering our environment, and – secondly – by exempting retailers with fewer than 250 employees.
The problem with biodegradable shopping bags is that they are still plastic and the biodegradable part to this is rather a questionable one as well. Very much in the same way that we keep hearing abut bio-plastic, that is to say, yes, plastic made from bio-matter. And even if it is so-called compostable and biodegradable (only in commercial composting plants, however) it is still plastic and much of the plant-based plastic in fact is neither compostable nor anything else but PET. But, according to some in the recycling industry, cannot be recycled in the same way as oil-based PET.
But back to the issue of the plastic one-time shopping bags. The first thing is that the bags should be at least charged at 10 pence at least in order for people to remember to bring their own reusable shopping bags and secondly, as said before, I cannot understand why (a) so-called biodegradable bags are exempt and retailers with fewer than 250 employees. I am totally lost as to what difference the number of employees of a retailer makes to the use of shopping bags.
Once again inconsistency, incomprehension and confusion reign! In fact, I believe the government has, once again, lost the plot (if ever they had any).