The trade associations have written to major UK retailers, as well as all the country's MPs, pointing out the flaws in the campaign and urging them to stick with the voluntary code of practice currently operating, which has resulted in 51% less virgin polymer in carrier bags and 65% less carbon impact. The bodies argue that the campaign has misrepresented the assessment of the impact of single-use carrier bags published in February 2011 by the Environment Agency (EA, Bristol / UK; www.environment-agency.gov.uk), which found that single-use HDPE carrier bags have a lower carbon footprint than alternative materials – see Plasteurope.com of 01.03.2011.
“We believe this new campaign is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts contained in this report and by targeting carrier bags diverts attention and resources from the macro-environmental issues we face,” says the letter from PAFA and CBC.
PAFA chief executive Barry Turner believes Keep Britain Tidy is wrong in targeting plastic bags as they represent just 0.03% of littered items in the UK environment. Echoing this sentiment, CBC chairman Paul Marmot said: “The plastic carrier bag is becoming the most environmentally acceptable solution for carrying goods home because it has the lowest impacts in production and transportation, is re-used by around 80% of households and can easily be recycled.”
Despite urgings from PAFA and the CBC, Wales introduced a five pence (5p) levy in October 2011 – see Plasteurope.com of 18.03.2011. According to retailers, this has seen bag usage fall by at least 75%. A similar 5p tax on all single-use bags is set to be introduced in Scotland – see Plasteurope.com of 03.07.2012 – with the aim of reducing bag consumption by some 80%. This move is expected to raise an estimated GBP 5-6m (EUR 6.3-7.5m).