What is it about plastic bags that makes me so annoyed? Don't get me wrong, we all have a few, mostly because we call in a supermarket on the way home, unexpectedly and don't have a bag for life with us. But any that I do have will get re-used for some purpose or other and in 99 times out of 100 I have my own shopping bag for life with me and don't need a plastic bag. No, that is not what annoys me, consumers using free plastic bags doesn't even annoy me. What annoys me is the pathetic, half hearted attempts at supermarkets, shops and the government to take no responsibility at all.
10 billion were given out in the UK alone in 2008, that is on average 400 per household.
Thousands of marine animals and over a million birds die each year as a result of plastic pollution.
Now there have been some good attempts by Marks and Spencer, who started charging 5p for a bag and have, I believe, stuck to that (I wouldn't know for sure as I don't shop there).
But other supermarkets are a bit pathetic. Sainsbury made a half hearted attempts at not having plastic bags out so you had to ask for them, but now, I notice, that has gone and there are just as many as there ever were. If you read there website on the subject it is a pathetic joke. Their reason for providing plastic bags still is:
Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to stop providing free carrier bags for our customers as it’s now considered a trading critical item in our stores.
Sounds like a load of non-words to me.
We did a 'pay-for' trial some years ago where we did charge the cost price for carrier bags to our customers, but our customers where not happy and complained.
Well, of course you are going to get that response if you ask regular joe blogs if he minds paying for something or not..
What does the UK competition law say? Well, they don’t permit retailers to work together to agree between themselves to charge for carrier bags. Why? It would be considered to be controlling part of the market for carrier bags, which is worth a lot of money to a number of UK companies.
Now I take this to mean that the basic reasoning is that because the plastic bag industry is making someone, somewhere a lot of money, that an individual company should not upset that. How short-sighted is that? Surely the bigger picture is of more importance.
The thing is, the government go around and around doing a sort of shall we, shan't we on the subject. I mean really, if they just either a, made a ruling that they must be paid for, or b, even better, that they banned them completely then people may complain for a few weeks but soon everyone would just be used to it and deal with it. In the past, supermarkets used to let you pick up their old cardboard boxes to pack stuff into, now they don't do that (except lidl, who seem to have a better policy). everyone would soon remember to take bags with them.
If the government takes this much to persuade and this much procrastination over something as simple as a fairly obvious plastic bag issue, then there is pretty much no hope at all over bigger and more important green issues going on. It is time they stopped worrying about who they will upset and started looking at making the Earth a cleaner, safer and longer lasting place to live.