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Getting rid of plastic shopping bags - is it a no-brainer?

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Feb 08, 12:13 PM

bags203.jpgThere's a growing war on plastic shopping bags. Marks and Spencer plans to charge customers 5p for them in an effort to reduce demand. The Irish government introduced a consumer plastic bag tax in 2002 and says use fell by more than 90%. Even China - not often regarded as a leading light on environmental issues - has banned ultra-thin bags and free bags will be banned from June this year. One of the country's leading plastic bag manufacturers has closed down as a result.

So isn't it now a no-brainer that the UK followed suit?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:10 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jerome van Doorn wrote:

It is a brave and sensible step from M&S. It works well in Holland, so why would it not work in England?Bring back the baskets!

  • 2.
  • At 01:10 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ben Pitman wrote:

Charging for plastic bags is the minimum that should be done

In fact Marks and Spencers and all the other supermarkets should charge an even higher amount discourage people from using them. I doubt people would pay a pound to use a plastic bag!!

Hopefully this will encourage people to use the plastic bags they stuff in drawers in their kitchen rather than add to the environmental damage already being caused.

  • 3.
  • At 01:10 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ian Swain wrote:

As we already pay for the bags through the price of articles you buy, is this a further attempt at boosting profits under the guise of "sustainability"? Watch the rest of the retail industry follow suit, benefiting shareholders at the expense of consumers yet again.

  • 4.
  • At 01:11 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Rachel Burgess wrote:

I think its a great idea. We have been doing this in Canada now for years. We are so use to this "disposable" "selfish" life style and ruining the environment because of it. I am in full support of a full ban all together The next step is packaging....

  • 5.
  • At 01:11 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Gavin wrote:

I've used all my Waitrose plastic carrier bags for the past 5 years as kitchen bin liners.
I believe this to be an environmentally friendly option as it prevents me from needing to use black bin bags every week - we dont have wheelie bins.

  • 6.
  • At 01:14 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Leonard Forde wrote:

In Switzerland they have dispensed for many years with plastic bags. But here in Britain, how shall we parcel up our domestic rubbish every day and take to the main bin or bins?
Plastuc bags are a necessity if, like me, you live in a block of flats.
Without plastic bags, the bins would be in an unholy mess.
The Daily Mail will undoubtedly maake themselves unpopular, certainly with my fellow residents.

  • 7.
  • At 01:14 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • tim wrote:

Yes, it would not be that hard to do! Keep the bags you do your weekly shop with in the boot of your car! If you walk put them in your pocket!

Its a very small and simple step which would make a very big change, the companies taking the lead on this and the people who aer applying the pressure should be commended.

  • 8.
  • At 01:15 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

Of course it's a no brainer.
I run a small business and we started to reduce giving out plastic bags over two years ago simply by asking customers if they 'needed' a carrier (as opposed to 'want'). The change in attitude has been dramatic and the money we have saved in plastic bags we have put in to an eco-cotton bag which we sell for cost or give away.

  • 9.
  • At 01:15 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Katie Gilkes wrote:

I lived in Ireland for a year last week - the charge on plastic bags works brilliantly there - such a relief not to have them all building up at home and knowing where inevitably they will end up. I try to remember here to take a bag with me and so often when i do before i have a chance - plastics have been loaded up by assistants, with a queue behind me i'm not going to unload.

Ban them being given away free now. Give a week's warning in stores so people if necessary have the option to remember to keep a few.

  • 10.
  • At 01:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Gary Woodhall wrote:

I like M & S's idea of charging for plastic bags; more supermarkets should follow suit as it would then encourage more bags to be reused rather than thrown away.

  • 11.
  • At 01:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Garth wrote:

In South Africa we adopted thicker bags which you HAD to pay for. It partially works, the supermarkets charge you but the clothes, shoes and those type of chains do not.
As there is no culture of "use the bin" over here, the bags are still an eyesore and float all over the show when a wind blows thro our many filthy and disgusting mini bus taxi ranks

  • 12.
  • At 01:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • deryk pooley wrote:

Given the myriad of environmental problems we face, this one really is a "no brainer".
Not only would it be easy to ban them but because very few people would actually be put out by a ban, it would also make every shopper in the country think about other simple ways of cutting down on non-essential but damaging products.

  • 13.
  • At 01:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • berkeley wrote:

Can't believe the UK has been so slow in getting wise to this. It is without doubt a complete no brainer both in and of itself and in terms of getting people to think about the impact each and every day they have on the environment around them.

  • 14.
  • At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • David wrote:

Of course it's a no brainer.
I run a small business and we started to reduce giving out plastic bags over two years ago simply by asking customers if they 'needed' a carrier (as opposed to 'want'). The change in attitude has been dramatic and the money we have saved in plastic bags we have put in to an eco-cotton bag which we sell for cost or give away.

  • 15.
  • At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Matthew wrote:

Absolutely it is a no-brainer. The culture change in Ireland was immediate and complete. There is no real cost to the policy, and a massive social benefit.

I just can't understand why the government hasn't introduced a ten pence tax already. Is there a giant plastic bag manufacturer in a marginal constituency somewhere?!?

  • 16.
  • At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Gerry wrote:

Unfortunately I don't walk around with a shopping bag for when I might do grocery shopping during the day. Supermarkets promote bulk shopping, so it would be extremely awkward if some form of bag was not offered - and a put off it was charged for.

  • 17.
  • At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Imogen wrote:

I think it would be a very positive thing if we banned carrier bags - in a very short time people would become accustomised to carrying cloth bags everywhere with them. There would be an initial outcry but that would pretty soon abate to a state in which we were just naturalised and getting plastic bags seemed strange and wrong.

  • 18.
  • At 01:17 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Flower wrote:

What happened to the brown paper carrier bags that everyone used before plastic ones took over? We now actually have to buy brown paper sacks to wrap food waste in, prior to putting it in the green bin. I'd appreciate a free supply of those. Couldn't M&S and others just switch?

  • 19.
  • At 01:18 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • c bamford wrote:

Whats the problem?
Why not use paper bags instead as perfectly degradable?

  • 20.
  • At 01:18 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Newbury wrote:

About time! I don't generally agree with enforcement on issues on such as this, but the "I don't care" attitude sometimes needs to be encouraged with legislation if we refuse to see the bigger picture. Question: what happened to the bags that recycle to inert dust within a year or so? True they are a pain when they begin to decompose and the contents emerge unexpectedly, but surely a reasonable compromise?

  • 21.
  • At 01:18 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Kate Williams wrote:

Hurray! Finally someone in the UK is catching on to the idea.

I've spent a lot of time living and working in Ireland and charging for plastic bags is definitely effective. In fact, i've been thinking of contacting my local MPs and Welsh AMs to see if something similar can't be done at home.

I'm as guilty as the next person for using plastic bags, mainly because my trips to the supermarket are impromptu, but if a universal charge was brought in, I would certainly plan ahead more.

Furthermore, it doesn't mean that customers are always faced with paying for bags. Shops in ireland supply free paper bags, which are amazingly strong, reusable and don't take 1000s of years to biodegrade. Plus I think they look quite smart!

In Ireland, a customer can choose to have a plastic bag if they wnt, but must pay the €0.15 charge. Fine by me.

Good old M&S!

  • 22.
  • At 01:19 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • c bamford wrote:

What`s the problem?
Why not use paper bags instead? perfectly degradable ,are they not?

  • 23.
  • At 01:20 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Reefat Imam wrote:

Hi,

This indeed is a very interesting issue for me being a Bangladeshi, one of the many countries where environmental issues are not often addressed with care! However, this being said, i am proud and happy to let all know that we have banned the use of plastic bags back in early 2002 when officials realised they were the main culprit for blocking storm drains and causing floods. https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1974750.stm

  • 24.
  • At 01:21 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

I'm not in favour of getting rid of plastic bags for the following reasons:
1. A plentyful supply of plastic shopping bags enable people to lift little and often, reducing back stain, using less bags or reusable and often larger bags will increase back strain.
2. All my plastic bags are reused anyway, though not necessarily to the advantage of the provider.
3. Has anyone made a shopping bag a man can use without appearing a bit wet?
Plastic bags are also fun to take into Club Class.
Sorry Jeremy.

GAS BAG

Little Jack Waitrose
Joe Public of late knows
Intends we eschew the free bag.
But aren’t climate troubles
Down to those methane bubbles
From chewing what makes the bags sag?

  • 26.
  • At 01:23 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • John Bacon wrote:

I always preferred paper bags

  • 27.
  • At 01:24 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Paul from Barking wrote:

Another "save the world" scheme to extract another few pennies off of us!

Roll on June 2010 and a change of govt.

  • 28.
  • At 01:24 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • RAM CHARAN ARYA wrote:

Its really about to worry. We have to stop to using palstic bags.

  • 29.
  • At 01:24 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Hugh Matthews wrote:

There has been an approx. 3p charge on supermarket carrier bags in Denmark for years now. People have got used to paying for them so demand may well have crept back up since the charge came into force.
But you think twice about just throwing them away - and certainly don't take a handful more 'just in case'.

  • 30.
  • At 01:24 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marie wrote:

This not a new idea and is bring back something that used to exist in all towns and cities across the country.

I'm in my early 40's and clearly recall when you were charged for plastic bags in the 1970's by all supermarkets...The "ordinary" retailer didn't provide carrier bags, and produce was put into paper bags / wax paper / cardboard, and then put into your own non-disposable shopping bag / trolley.

These were the days when people shopped at multiple retailers in a high street and knew where to source the best meat, veg AND at most importantly, the best price.

Nostalgic? Maybe, but somehow we managed perfectly well in a non-car shopping world to get the food and other retail items bought without plastic bags...after all, none of wanted to have be ripped off in the early 70's (money) for 2p and 5p for carrier bags when we had a perfectly good bag to use.

It's got to be an easier prospect for shoppers now that they have the luxury of cars to take home their purchases.

The plastic bag need to be banned all over the world. It's unnecesary element. Willy, from Argentina.

  • 32.
  • At 01:27 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • michele wrote:

In South Africa we have been paying for plastic shopping bags for about two years now. This affects grocery shopping only, as clothing retailers still give free bags(although they are not strong). We certainly see less litter now and everyone re-uses their bags a number of times. Great move.

  • 33.
  • At 01:27 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Paul from Barking wrote:

Another "save the world" scheme to extract another few pennies off of us!

Roll on June 2010 and a change of govt.

  • 34.
  • At 01:28 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Roy Eastham wrote:

I hope U.S. does same and another alternative to paper found. Some bring cloth bags to stores and wash them after each use. Maybe stores could sell cloth bags at 1-5 dollars each depending on size and offer paper to those who don't want cloth bags.

  • 35.
  • At 01:30 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marjorie wrote:

A very good idea! Not only are they
dangerous,but food soon goes bad in
them,because heat is generated inside.Also,many people just throw
them anywhere,making the place very
untidy.Paper Bags were far better,and
I hope they will soon be back in use.

  • 36.
  • At 01:31 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Tee wrote:

Given that we use 200 million plastic bage each week in the UK alone, and that each bag is used for an average 16 minutes, it certainly is a no-brainer that we should follow suit. Personally I would like to see 25p per bag charged, as a way to make people think. I was recently in the Czech Republic, and they charge for every plastic bag, which has encouraged most people to bring their own, which is what is used to be like in the UK many moon ago.

  • 37.
  • At 01:32 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marjorie wrote:

A very good idea! Not only are they
dangerous,but food soon goes bad in
them,because heat is generated inside.Also,many people just throw
them anywhere,making the place very
untidy.Paper Bags were far better,and
I hope they will soon be back in use.

  • 38.
  • At 01:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Mal Miller wrote:

Plastic bags are a hazard to marine life when incorrectly disposed of, and it's such an easy thing to grab a fist full of washable bags before going to the supermarket and slinging them in the washing machine when you get back - plus I personally find them more gentle on fragile fruit and veg.

But plastic bags are very handy for impulse purchases and small purchases, such as a sandwich and drink from a newsagent.

There should be no need for government interference. For most use cases, reusable bags should be the obvious choice for the shopper, and where plastic bags are the sensible option it should be as easy to recycle them than to throw them in landfill.

  • 39.
  • At 01:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Nigel Bane wrote:

When I was a kid "we" took "our" shopping bags with us to the shops. The advent of the plastic bag was a massive step backwards and, as they last forever, should not be offered at all. I've had a discussion with a lady in the office here who was vehement that plastic bags are required FOR CLOTHES SHOPPING ???
It must be me but I see absolutely no need for them. Why not use paper bags ? and didn't I hear there is a plastic bag look-alike that's actually recyclable ?

  • 40.
  • At 01:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • David Smith wrote:

Some companies (notably Wilkinsons) have addressed this issue by selling re-usable bags at cost. Perhaps our big supermarkets could follow this lead, rather than profiteering from it?

(Wilko Bag 20-40p - identical Tesco bag 50p-£1.00)

Whilst shopping bags ARE a problem, a bigger problem is all the extra packaging and wrapping on the items themselves.

  • 41.
  • At 01:34 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Reefat Imam wrote:

Hi,

This indeed is a very interesting issue for me being a Bangladeshi, one of the many countries where environmental issues are not often addressed with care! However, this being said, i am proud and happy to let all know that we have banned the use of plastic bags back in early 2002 when officials realised they were the main culprit for blocking storm drains and causing floods. https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1974750.stm

  • 42.
  • At 01:35 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • John May wrote:

For years we complained that shops charged for the bags we took things home in.
Eventually they gave us 'free' bags.
Now we go back to paying for bags we have all ready been charged for in the price of the goods?
Environment conscern? I dont think so... Shops are laughing all the way to the bank over this one!
Individual acts of environment protection are really a tax on consumers. If they cared a tiny bit for the earth then they would cut all packaging and support ethical production of the goods from raw materials to consumer, including transport and eventual disposal. Not even our 'enlightened' government is considering this.

  • 43.
  • At 01:38 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jez wrote:

Why didn't M&S make it £5 per bag? 5p will make absolutely no difference to anything as most people will just pay it.

  • 44.
  • At 01:38 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • richard knight wrote:

I agree plastic bags should be charged - the Irish cost equates to 15p and has proved to be a very effective control - I refer you to Bob Edwards and Rachel Kellet's book 'A Life In Plastic' published in 2000 which highlighted the issue in India - https://www.baobabs.co.uk/lip/lip.htm

  • 45.
  • At 01:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Kay Sutherland wrote:

Good for M&S!

I hope all other supermarkets follow their lead. However, I think that checkout assistants need to be educated on the dangers of plastc carriers-I visited my local Sainsbury's this morning & the checkout operator immediately reached for a wad of plastic carriers to pack my shopping even though I said I would do my own packing & had brought my own bags!!!

Perhaps if shoppers were asked if they really needed a bag this would cut down on the numbers used. Thatis, until we get a complete ban on them!

  • 46.
  • At 01:42 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jerome van Doorn wrote:

It is a brave and sensible step from M&S. It works well in Holland, so why would it not work in England?Bring back the baskets!

  • 47.
  • At 01:47 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • John May wrote:

For years we complained that shops charged for the bags we took things home in.
Eventually they gave us 'free' bags.
Now we go back to paying for bags we have all ready been charged for in the price of the goods?
Environment conscern? I dont think so... Shops are laughing all the way to the bank over this one!
Individual acts of environment protection are really a tax on consumers. If they cared a tiny bit for the earth then they would cut all packaging and support ethical production of the goods from raw materials to consumer, including transport and eventual disposal. Not even our 'enlightened' government is considering this.

  • 48.
  • At 01:49 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Roberto wrote:

Retailers should be encouraging their staff not to automatically put purchases in plastic carrier bags,small shops ie newsagents, are among the worst, I've found single items like newspapers, sweets,loafs are bread are readily put staright away in bags totally unneccesary !!

  • 49.
  • At 01:51 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • R. Potter wrote:

I agree. I read and learned recently that it takes 800 years for plastic to decompose. If this is true, it should be enough incentive to quit using plastic bags. My wife and I use a shopping bag to hold our purchases.

  • 50.
  • At 01:54 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Roy Eastham wrote:

I hope U.S. does same and another alternative to paper found. Some bring cloth bags to stores and wash them after each use. Maybe stores could sell cloth bags at 1-5 dollars each depending on size and offer paper to those who don't want cloth bags.

  • 51.
  • At 01:58 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Janice Chiang wrote:

In my opinion, getting rid of plastic shopping bags by imposing charge on it to reduce demand is fundamentally a brilliant idea.
This idea, however, does not bring any significant improvement to the environment, if it is only being practise by minority of the society.
This is due to the fact that people, as timw goes by, will avoid visiting the particular shop that charge them on the plastic bag. It will in turn result in the downfall of the business. Do it once and for all. The government should encourage shops and supermarkets to move towards a more environmental-friendly approach- by using paper bag.
Only if everybody makes every endeavor to do it, it will be a significant effort.

  • 52.
  • At 02:03 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Janet wrote:

Good old M & S! Let's hope other companies follow suit. It's all very well recycling used bags but the process in itself damages the environment. Let's cut their usage down as much as we can.

  • 53.
  • At 02:07 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marie wrote:

This not a new idea and is bring back something that used to exist in all towns and cities across the country.

I'm in my early 40's and clearly recall when you were charged for plastic bags in the 1970's by all supermarkets...The "ordinary" retailer didn't provide carrier bags, and produce was put into paper bags / wax paper / cardboard, and then put into your own non-disposable shopping bag / trolley.

These were the days when people shopped at multiple retailers in a high street and knew where to source the best meat, veg AND at most importantly, the best price.

Nostalgic? Maybe, but somehow we managed perfectly well in a non-car shopping world to get the food and other retail items bought without plastic bags...after all, none of wanted to have be ripped off in the early 70's (money) for 2p and 5p for carrier bags when we had a perfectly good bag to use.

It's got to be an easier prospect for shoppers now that they have the luxury of cars to take home their purchases.

  • 54.
  • At 02:07 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Reefat Imam wrote:

Hi,

This indeed is a very interesting issue for me being a Bangladeshi, one of the many countries where environmental issues are not often addressed with care! However, this being said, i am proud and happy to let all know that we have banned the use of plastic bags back in early 2002 when officials realised they were the main culprit for blocking storm drains and causing floods. https://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1974750.stm

  • 55.
  • At 02:15 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Nigel Bane wrote:

When I was a kid "we" took "our" shopping bags with us to the shops. The advent of the plastic bag was a massive step backwards and, as they last forever, should not be offered at all. I've had a discussion with a lady in the office here who was vehement that plastic bags are required FOR CLOTHES SHOPPING ???
It must be me but I see absolutely no need for them. Why not use paper bags ? and didn't I hear there is a plastic bag look-alike that's actually recyclable ?

  • 56.
  • At 02:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Henry Ettinghausen wrote:

"One of the country's leading plastic bag manufacturers has closed down as a result. So isn't it now a no-brainer that the UK followed suit?"
This is a classic non-sequitur.

  • 57.
  • At 02:18 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • angela southern wrote:

Why can't we return to paper bags? Re M & S - Are you simply referring to a charge on plastic bags for grocery shopping or clothing as well? I wish I'd known about the plastic bag ban before my last visit to Ireland -when we stayed in self-catering accommodation. Supermarket shopping for a family group of 10 was more of a problem than I anticipated.

New York State does not allow plastic carriers to be suppied by supermarkets, so they supply brown paper bags, not great in a heavy rainstorm, They reveal their inbuilt
self destruct, but even then, better than the windblown indestructibles in every carpark.

  • 59.
  • At 02:23 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Peter Woolsey wrote:

Estonia, a new accession country to the EC is one of the world's leading E- and M-government countries; they invented Skype and Napster. They have always charged about 5 to 7 pence per bag at all their supermarkets, unless you buy something really expensive.

This is a country whose GDP now exceeds that of Portugal. What Estonia does today, the world may do tomorrow.


Free plastic shopping bags are re-useable, they can be taken back to the supermarket - but people can't be bothered. The problem is not with the bags, but with consumers. Have you ever weighed a carrier bag? they weigh virtually nothing. Compare the weight of a plastic carrier bag to the weight of the food that people throw away each day, because they didn't eat it in time. Far more good food ends up in land-fill sites than carrier bags!

  • 61.
  • At 02:34 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

About time too!! why don't we go back to brown paper bags. They are sustainable, strong and degradeable. I always refuse over-eager sales assistants who try and push plastic carrier bags on me for my one small purchase. This is a good first step, next we need to deal with disposable nappies. did you know that every single disposable nappy ever pooed in, is still sitting in groundfill not degrading???

  • 62.
  • At 02:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Liz wrote:

I think it's high time that the UK followed suit. Like Marie, I too remember how having to pay for a plastic carrier encouraged many of us to use our own bags, and my 95-year-old mother regularly takes the shopping bags she's owned for decades (literally) with her when she does her shopping.

So three cheers for M&S for leading the way!

Having said that, I own several non-plastic shopping bags and I confess there are occasions I either forget to take one with me, or take a small one and then buy more than will fit into it. I also use public transport (we don't have a car) and I have to say that it is actually a lot easier to carry two big 'proper' shopping bags than four or five flimsy plastic ones.

If all shops charged for the plastic carriers perhaps we could begin to move beyond our throw-away society.

I can hope, anyway.

  • 63.
  • At 02:42 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marlon Campbell wrote:

NO, it is more like those who advocate this ban have no brains.

Cheap or free thin plastic bags are one of the best inventions of the 20th century.

They permit easy safe clean transport of goods which may be perishable.

They avoid contamination between products and are fine in any weather.

They can be reused, and can also be designed to biodegrade naturally over time.

They also minimise shop-lifting, and offer brand advertising.

This campaign against them is one of the most stupid and irresponsible around.

It is meaningless posturing.

There is an issue around waste, but the attacks on the thin plastic bag are an extreme example of the absurd way semi-bright people (some
would say half-wits) mis-analyse a situation, and then blight the lives of us all with absolutely nonsensical pseudo-brainwaves such as this
proposed ban on plastic bags.

  • 64.
  • At 02:44 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Judith Butler wrote:

this is a politically motivated issue. the scientists have knownthis about these bags since they were first brought out. Why they do not give out bio-degradable bags thus solving this problem.

a disabled Sainsburys customer.

  • 65.
  • At 02:44 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jackie Rupert wrote:

How are we to deal with our domestic rubbish currently placed in those bags obtained from our shopping at M&S et al to put in our bins? Presumably a plot to make us pay even more (by now having to buy loads of bags for the purpose) by someone who makes them? And what about the smelly dirty bins that will ensue?

  • 66.
  • At 02:50 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jerome van Doorn wrote:

A brave en sensible step from M&S. Charging for plastic works well in Holland so why not here? Bring back the baskets!

  • 67.
  • At 02:50 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Brenda wrote:

As far as I am concerned if everyone remembered to take bags with them to all the shops they use, then if the memory needs jogging to bring your own bags to any shop, it would make sense to charge 25p per bag. It would soon make many concientious of the state of this world and hopefully things would change at a tremendous rate.

  • 68.
  • At 02:50 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Carrie-Rebecca Burton wrote:

I think it is high time that we take steps to alter our throwaway culture and this is a key area in which we can start.

I know I used to be guilty of using too many plastic bags, and only latterly have come to realise the dreadful cost to the environment and wildlife.

I think asking us to pay for the bags we use is the perfect way of ensuring we actually think about how whether we indeed need them, or whether we can use reusable bags/carriers instead. I would like to see them disappear for good - whatever happened to the good old days of using a basket??

I for one welcome the proposal.

  • 69.
  • At 02:55 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Alison wrote:

It should be a no-brainer for retailers to check whether you need one. But banning them entirely isn't practical as there will be times when you really do need one and don't have an alternative - like this morning, when after dropping my children at school, I bought wet fish and didn't fancy putting it in my handbag.

Also, like lots of people, I use them as bin liners. If they get banned, I start having to buy plastic bin liners. No positive net result then is there?


GAS BAG

Little Jack Waitrose
Joe Public of late knows
Intends we eschew the free bag.
But aren’t climate troubles
Down to those methane bubbles
From chewing what makes the bags sag?

OOPS WRONG SHOP

Marks and Spenser
Intend "five pence sir"
For that devilish plastic carrier
But they'll find something other
Without too much bother
And return to "The more the merrier!"


  • 71.
  • At 02:57 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Paul Southon wrote:

We have lived in France for four years. Throughout that period, the local supermarkets sell "long use" plastic bags, which one reuses and which last for many years. No problem, only if you forget to take your bag do you buy another one. A much better answer.

  • 72.
  • At 03:00 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

There seems to be some confusion about reasons with carrier bags. There are two problems with them: they are often discarded carelessly, and they use resources to make.

In fact, the manufacture of carrier bags is more environmentally friendly than the manufacture of similar items such as 'bags for life' or bin liners, because they use far less material. If you are going to discard the item anyway (eg because it's used as a bin liner) then a carrier bag is better to discard than a thicker bin liner.

So, the only remaining issue with them is that they are discarded carelessly. Maybe a small charge per bag would help with that, or maybe better public awareness. However, banning them totally could be a step backwards because lots of people would use less environmentally friendly alternatives.

  • 73.
  • At 03:01 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jerome van Doorn wrote:

A brave en sensible step from M&S. Charging for plastic works well in Holland so why not here? Bring back the baskets!

  • 74.
  • At 03:08 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Anne wrote:

Plastic bags are not much use anyway if you put heavy stuff in them you get as far as the door of the supermarket and they just break i rather use a cloth bag at least they are more sturdy and dont break after so little use and No I would not consider paying for a plastic one just to advertise the shops name.

  • 75.
  • At 03:10 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Wilfred Boden wrote:

Just to add an alternative point of view, here in North Wales, Flintshire County Council require me to use these old plastic bags to collect recycled items for doorstep collection. Items are put in blue boxes, of course, but separated into steel, aluminium, glass, plastic bottles etc by using separate plastic bags within this box.
Another interesting viewpoint is that I use free carrier bags as binliners for my waste bins in each room of my house - will I now have to buy binliners ? Yet another cost to drain an already depleted pension, when gas and electricity rise by 17%, petrol by Heaven knows what, food by Heaven knows what, Community Charge by around 6% - yet the government still try to convince us that inflation is only rising by 2% ? Yes - and I believe that. Honest.

  • 76.
  • At 03:11 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Annabel wrote:

Maybe your reporters could investigate how many times you have to reuse one the 10p reusable bags sold by the supermarkets for it to benefit the environment.

The reusable bags must contain at least 10 times more plastic than an ultra-thin one, but because it's easy to forget to take some each time you visit a supermarket you end up with a whole pile of them clogging up your kitchen cupboard.

I see lots of people walking down the street with carrying their shopping in smart 'latest edition' reusable bags, but not so many with battered last season versions.

  • 77.
  • At 03:12 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • George Ross wrote:

Totally idiotic, unnecessary and inconvenient. M&S, like other stores, must use biodegradable bags, with a life of, say, two years. The know-how is there - it has been there for several decades, but they were not manufactured because the demand for them wasn't there. Now it is. Some London stores already use biodegradable bags. They may be a bit more expensive - so the price of goods would go up by a penny or two.
But in this day and age, one cannot expect people to go around London clutching a pile of carrier bags!
In any case, charging 5p for an ordinary bag won't solve the problem, whereas using biodegradable bags, would.
And if we take this imbecility to its logical conclusion, what would happen with refuse bags? Abolish them, too?

George

  • 78.
  • At 03:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Margaret Baumann wrote:

M&S introduced a charge for plastic bags here in Northern Ireland last year, giving adequate notice and supplying free stronger re-usable plastic bags in the run-up. It seems to work well, and I now keep one of the bags in the car boot so that I'm never caught out.

  • 79.
  • At 03:21 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Anne Stone wrote:

I think this is a very good idea! I am glad to hear about China, too. I live in Belgium and find that there are no supermarkets left that I know of that give out free plastic bags - or sacs, as they are called here. Each market has its own lovely bags of various degrees of strength (and price) and I've got my favourites from all. One market - Spar - has lovely works of art on its bags. I was in the States recently and frequented a supermarket - Trader Joe's - that had a sale on the nicest bags that were insulated and had a zipper and I bought up several. On my way back here to Belgium, I spent three weeks in Bermuda and gave some of them out as gifts. Here a friend is using her gift bag as a handbag and she thinks it is very fashionable. So yes, I am all in favour of this move.

  • 80.
  • At 03:27 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

about time too !!! We need to go back to paper bags. They are sustainable, and recyclable. Also we need to start the discussions on disposable nappies. Did you know that every sigle nappy that's ever been pooed in is still sitting in landfill sites (globally), and has a shelf-life of 1000 years before it even starts degrading... what a thought !!!

  • 81.
  • At 03:27 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Marlon Campbell wrote:

Cheap or free thin plastic bags are one of the best inventions of the 20th century.

They permit easy safe clean transport of goods which may be perishable.

They avoid contamination between products and are fine in any weather.

They can be reused, and can also be designed to biodegrade naturally over time.

They also minimise shop-lifting, and offer brand advertising.

This campaign against them is one of the most stupid and irresponsible around.

It is meaningless posturing.

There is an issue around waste, but the attacks on the thin plastic bag are an extreme example of the absurd way semi-bright people (some would say half-wits) mis-analyse a situation, and then blight the lives of us all with absolutely nonsensical pseudo-brainwaves such as this proposed ban on plastic bags.

  • 82.
  • At 03:28 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Sue & John Bell wrote:

Contrary to your comment in the 'Newsnight' e-mail, about China not being regarded as a leading light on environmental issues, come to Xi'an - where we are teaching - and see the truth. Not only is the plastic bag issue being dealt with, but here in the Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone and elsewhere in Xi'an, there are numerous waste bins with spaces for recyclable and non-recyclable rubbish; large numbers of electric bikes and motor bikes; taxis which run on L.P.G.; a population that extensively uses public transport which costs about 7 pence any distance; bus drivers who switch off their engines when stopped at long wait traffic lights which indicate exactly how long before they can continue; car free days; restricted use of central heating; extensive green spaces, parks, abundant trees and streets that are swept frequently and systematically. In addition, Xi'an is the headquarters of BP Sun Oasis, a multimillion dollar Sino-UK joint venture facility designing & manufacturing solar cells to produce electricity. Banning free plastic bags in the UK is a small catch-up with China.

  • 83.
  • At 03:36 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • pam wrote:

I quite agree with all that has been said but dont charge people just dont give them a bag they will soon remember to bring their own reuseable bags or do as they do in america and give recyclable brown paper bags and these can be reused a few times first.
If nothing else it will stop our roads and green spaces looking like a washing line of Plastic bags.
Dont forget what it does to our wild life.
Bane the plastic bags and charge the shops/companies who give them out to the general public.

  • 84.
  • At 03:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ian Swain wrote:

As we already pay for the bags through the price of articles you buy, is this a further attempt at boosting profits under the guise of "sustainability"? Watch the rest of the retail industry follow suit, benefiting shareholders at the expense of consumers yet again.

  • 85.
  • At 03:58 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Sue wrote:

About fifteen years' ago I was able to shop locally in my village with a shopping trolley. One by one our local shops closed down, due to very large supermarkets opening in the nearby town. We shop once a week in bulk now but we need to go by car, wait in traffic jams and usually have not sufficient bags for all our goods, even though we always think we've taken plenty. Hence we are obliged to use the store's plastic ones. Plastic bags and the rest of the horrible packaging are a direct result of women working and not having sufficient time to cook wholesome meals, cooked with basic ingredients. Now I am unable to shop the way I used to do and wish to do now. Where has MY choice gone?

The backlash against plastic-bags is, rightly, starting to snowball. As a local community group working to activate positive environmental change in London's boroughs we have witnessed this first hand. In recently working with Broadway Market traders in Hackney to establish London's first plastic bag-free market, we have recorded a swell of support from the public, as well as the business community, on the issue of getting rid of the scourge of plastic bags once and for all.

UK businesses and communities are simply no longer willing to sit idly by as this Labour government dithers over yet another vital issue. The fact that there is successful legislative precedents in other countries pertaining to the reduction of plastic bags use makes the government's inaction all the more alarming.

The Irish ban was a blanket ban on all shops, even Tescos. I do wonder how important the 'walking billboards' are in terms of advertising. Will M+S be negatively affected? I sincerely hope not.

  • 88.
  • At 04:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Kat wrote:

Perhaps it is a No-Brainer, but it really should be up to the Consumer. Charging a fee for a simple plastic bag is not the way for Environmental purposes, it seems to only increase profits for businesses. As stated by some previous posts, this bags are used as bin liners which is a great "recycled" tool instead of "purchasing" other bin liners. Shopping with totes is more common in European Countries thank goodness, but unfortunately, in the States (where the Americans are way too non Environmental) this is NOT true. But some of us are attempting to turn the tide (so to speak). Ta Everyone..

The backlash against plastic-bags is, rightly, starting to snowball. As a local community group working to activate positive environmental change in London's boroughs we have witnessed this first hand. In recently working with Broadway Market traders in Hackney to establish London's first plastic bag-free market, we have recorded a swell of support from the public, as well as the business community, on the issue of getting rid of the scourge of plastic bags once and for all.

UK businesses and communities are simply no longer willing to sit idly by as this Labour government dithers over yet another vital issue. The fact that there is successful legislative precedents in other countries pertaining to the reduction of plastic bag use makes the government's inaction all the more alarming.

  • 90.
  • At 04:21 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Rob Slack wrote:

The law of unintended consequences clearly states we shall all have to buy more plastic rubbish bags.

Last time I used a paper carrier bag it rained and the bottom fell out.

  • 91.
  • At 04:29 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

I used to find plastic bags very useful to put rubbish in, tie up neatly, and put in the dustbin. But now my local council has gone so green that I must put my compostable rubbish into newspaper or cornstarch bags (which I have to buy from them), my recyclable rubbish in a blue-topped bin, and the rest in a big black plastic bag which I also have to buy. So now I have a surfeit of plastic bags from shops and no use for them. Is this an example of joined up government, with local and national ideas getting together?
I tried to post this earlier, but it disappeared - apologies if it's waiting in a cyberqueue and ends up done twice.

  • 92.
  • At 04:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Siu-Wai wrote:

It's a good idea to impose plastic bag charges in UK - when we were in Europe we always remembered to take shopping bags with us because we knew each plastic bag costs money in the supermarket. It became a habit to carry a foldable shopper in my handbag.
Packaging is another issue stores and manufacturers should tackle - often you buy something small but the packaging bulk up the size, not only is that wasteful in resources but also resulting the customer needing a bigger bag to carry it home!

  • 93.
  • At 04:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jack Hewson wrote:

I notice nobody is concerned for the poor old manufacturer of plastic bags who has striven from 1948 to make his product consumer and environmentally friendly - and now - the great M&S waves a magic [?] wand to get publicity - sorry that should be - to be trendy - sorry that should read to be part of a popular movement and all of a sudden a plastic bag sweat shop in Northern Indian is feeling the ripples of the Marks and Sparks five point twoer.

  • 94.
  • At 04:35 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • William Smith wrote:

I like the idea of doing away with plastic shopping bags. However, the midwestern United States - where I currently live - is fundamentally culturally backward compared to other parts of the country. Being 'different' is frowned upon here, so for these people to give up plastic shopping bags is, with some notable exceptions, a bit of a cognitive stretch - to say the least.

Over time, I've accumulated my own store of these bags, but I recycle them for my rubbish and have been moving away from accepting them when I do shopping - whenever possible.

When I do shopping for groceries and sundries, I like to make use of a large backpack and another collapsible bag that I can stow inside it. One of my favourites for this purpose is a German Army surplus rucksack because it's simple and easy to stuff a lot into it - be the contents in plastic shopping bags or not.

There's only one minor problem: For instance, if I go into the local Target store on, say, a Saturday afternoon, the employees in the store keep asking me if I need help with something even though I'm minding my own business and wearing the backpack instead of putting it in my shopping trolley.

What also seems to provoke their interest in me is if I ride in on a bicycle and wear a bicycle helmet as I do my shopping. To them - and most people in this part of the United States - it's just plain *weird* that you're not driving a car and using a backpack for hauling your groceries.

(If, however, I drive to the same store and *do not* wear a backpack and/or a bicycle helmet there, I do not get nearly as many store employees asking me if I need help with something [i.e., none at all]).

This phenomenon, in social psychological terms, is called *stereotyping*. (I'm a psychologist, just not a clinical one.) Aside from being highly offensive to experience first hand, people practising this stereotyping fail to keep in mind that the price of petrol in western Illinois is now staying over US$3.00 per US gallon, so I'm saving money in terms of what's involved in owning a car (maintenance, petrol, insurance, etc.). Moreover, I get aerobic exercise by making the trek out to their illustrious store (when the local city streets are passable with pedal power) in the process, which I feel to be a more eco-friendly approach to getting business done.

Because of such offensive behaviour as I encounter, I do not shop at such stores as frequently as I once did. I now patronise more stores where I get friendlier service and people understand (relatively speaking: after all, this *is* the midwestern United States) that, however 'different' it be to utilise a backpack, I'm doing my own bit for the environment.

  • 95.
  • At 04:35 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Noel Dobson wrote:

Plastic bags are an ideal and cheap way to transport goods from shops to ones home.
They are also an ideal and cheap way to contain rubbish in the wheeled refuse bin. They help to keep the bin clean.
When the rubbish leaves my property it is up to the local council and the landfill sites to manage the rubbish so that the plastic bags are contained and buried within the site.

Put the blame and remedy where it belongs and let us hear no more of this no brained idea of getting rid of plastic carrier bags which are probably one of the most useful and most used items in our daily lives.

  • 96.
  • At 04:40 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Bill Frampton wrote:

I am not going shopping anymore, I shall slowly starve to death if by turning off my heating to avoid shortening the life of the planet doesn't get me with hypothermia first.I've already disposed of my car and now walk everywhere although stumble would be a better description of my method of perambulation as I have been waiting three years for two hip replacements,I received a letter from the N.H.S. hospital today asking if I still wanted the appointment my G.P. tried to make for me re my skin cancer, which has only resulted in me receiving a letter from the above mentioned hospital telling me that I have been referred for an appointment
and have been placed on a waiting list, and depending on the severity of my case the date of my appointment
will be sent to me.
The issue of free plastic bags is pretty much low on my horizon. And I have not even mentioned poverty in the third world, or Eduardo's injury or why Chelsea believe they are debt free because only one man has promissory notes amounting to 300 billion or something. Come on everybody grow up, stop frequenting supermarkets and let's have the corner shop back when your goods purchased will be delivered by a rosy cheeked young man who is always whistling

  • 97.
  • At 04:42 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Bess Cannon wrote:

A couple questions----I am homebound, have day care that comes in three times a week, empties my plastic bag lined garbage and trash containers around the house and puts them in one of my large garbage bins outside. Once a week, the bins go out by the curb to be emptied by the garbage truck. Also, I have cats and little step cans we line with plastic bags to empty litter cleaned from litter box. Our garbage collector will ONLY tAke garbage and trash wrapped in plastic bags. Anything else he leaves. What do people like me do with leaking, wet paper bags?
There are a LOT like me. What is your solution for us?

  • 98.
  • At 04:45 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Dan wrote:

Plastic bag use is just one example of our wasteful attitude to resource use. Here in the UK we consume resources and generate pollution as if we had 3 planets and it is high time we tackled this.

Using billions of plastic bags is simply unneccesary - not only a waste of resources but they pollute our environment and threaten wildlife. Experience in Ireland shows it can work, some progressive retailers here in the UK seem on board. Time the Government just followed suit and introduced a plastic bag tax.

It has become fashionable amongst the ladies who lunch to have durable carrier bags with real green credentials. My home is already overflowing with more of these than any five people could manage to carry when fully laden.

;-)
ed

  • 100.
  • At 05:01 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • John Woollen wrote:

Well done M&S for taking the lead but why only 5p or better still why not withdraw the facility completely and encourage people to shop only in places where they have to provide their own re-usable carriers.We are also suffering terribly here in Greece but the pictures in the current issues of the daily mail are shocking to say the least

  • 101.
  • At 05:03 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Patrick J Hopkins wrote:

I was born in 1941 - during the war.
One fond memory of childhood was the concept of reusable items like milk bottles and robust shopping bags which were used over and over again. This was an extension of 'making do and mending'. People really did use their simple sewing machines to keep their linen and clothing in good repair. Items lasted longer and people were quietly proud of their efforts.
Now in this 'throw-away-society'the sewing machines are numerous, sophisticated but rarely used, on average. Clothing is purchased, may be worn, then used to flood the third world. Attitudes have changed.
Food packaging is never refilled and infrequently recycled. A typical shopping bag of yesteryear is now replaced during its life by, say, a thousand plastic bags which contribute to the millions floating around the environment.
Well I do shop with reusable shopping bags and would encourage others to do the same - en masse. I'd also welcome the use of tough, recyclable PET drinks bottles which are returned to the shops against a deposit. This works without problem in several other countries e.g. Turkey.

  • 102.
  • At 05:35 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Mumby wrote:

From an article in teh Independent by Dominic Lawson

The only problem with that is that plastic bags, though undeniably irritating when left lying around, are essentially the by-product, rather than the cause, of fossil fuel generation. Approximately 98 per cent of every barrel of oil, once refined, is consumed as petrol or diesel. If the remaining two per cent of naphtha was not used for packaging, it would almost certainly be flared off – which is pure waste.

  • 103.
  • At 05:36 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Billy wrote:

I carry a couple of boxes in the car and take the trolley to the car without bags and load the boxes. Its just as easy to take the boxes indoors and the put them back in the boot. One reason I do this is because Tescos have cottoned on and give "green points", if you dont use their plastic bags.

  • 104.
  • At 05:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • K. Edwards wrote:

It's about time!

I was very used to being charged much more than 10p for plastic bags when I lived on the Continent or using paper in North America. It helped change me into a tote-shopper--the M&S basic black coordinates best, but my over-sized Gap bronze tote draws the most plaudits from fashionistas.

When I moved to the UK in 2004, I was shocked at how the environment is everybody else's problem--weak recycling, wait until China does something, excessive packaging, and those useless thin plastic bags. I was horrified to learn that there actually was an environment minister, as I am not sure what she actually did.

Good on you, M&S, although I'm sure their internal market research shows that their customer base was probably out in front of them on this one.

Now, what steps will M&S (and the other retailers) take to train their staff to actually listen to you when you insist, "No plastic bags please"?

BTW, backpacks are best if you want to avoid back strain. And you can get those corrugated boxes that the supermarkets simply toss out for free!

  • 105.
  • At 06:01 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

"Paul from Barking wrote:

Roll on June 2010 and a change of govt."

Another person that cannot comprehend what is written. This is not being forced through by the government but is a unilateral decision by an business. Unless of course Paul wants a change of govt to pledge that shops must provide an endless supply of plastic bags so that the landfill sites are clogged up even quicker.....

Of course it should be taken up by the government as per the Irish example.

  • 106.
  • At 06:02 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ola Deji wrote:

I always believe that shopping bags are not freebies. Personally, it would not make any difference if i have to pay more. However, the ramification or impact of any policy should be carefully thoght of before implementation.

  • 107.
  • At 06:07 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • PETER EMERSON wrote:

Yet another bandwaggon for the P.C. morons to jump on.Why is it that within a short space of time that anything that in anyway benefits ordinary people or might be seen as enjoyable to/by them, either the P.C., Green, or Global Wsrming Brigades find (to them) irrefutable reasons why it should be banned, I.E. diesel, eggs, oil,(vegetable,corn. olive) varieties, smoking, wines,(even in moderation) butter, cheese.white flour brown flour, The list is endless.do these people understand that some of these items are basically improvements on the items they superceded, it is calleed EVOLUTION and occurs in EVERYTHING uder the sun. that is why we now live in centrally heated houses, not in caves with a camp fire in the entrance. WAKE UP TO REALISM. BRING ON NUCLEAR POWER, FORGET GLOBAL WARMING< IOTS A NATURAL PHENOMENON and happens approx every 10.000 yrs
and despite what the government say, THERE IS NOTHING we can do to stop it. Study the natural history of the world, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 108.
  • At 06:28 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • James Apps wrote:

It is good to see a leading retailer come to terms with saving valuable resourses. Perhaps this will be the start of a plastic bag tax and eventual large reduction in use with fully re-usable bags as the norm. Good on yer M&S.

  • 109.
  • At 06:41 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Rob Slack wrote:

According to the law of unintended consequences we shall all have to buy more plastic rubbish bags.

I do believe the whole plastic bag thing is now a done deal. Just like any attempt at discussing climate change. At least for reasoned debate. You are either for the ban, or you are an enemy of Gaia. No matter whether it, other in the most simplistic, absolutist terms, might or might not be effective on a few key environmental levels, at least without some other more pressing and vital areas (such as sorting out our woeful waste collection and disposal systems) being addressed first.

Some noisy people have spoken, the media mob has seen a soft target, decided, and it's all over bar the P45s... and possible worse planetary enviROI from the as yet not very clearly explained alternatives (Paper? Much worse for carbon. Biodegradables/compostables? Not really ready to be dealt with properly as yet. Bags for life? Well, yes, but these do seem to be getting rushed out a bit).

No issue that these things are not optimal on about any level, but I'd love such as the Daily Mail to please explain how 'M&S banishing the FREE bag' (today's headline) stops 5p plastic bags getting into the waste stream and choking a turtle. Or at least becoming part of a toxic soup solution. It's mankind's consumerism, and the fact there are an awful lot of us (and growing) consuming ever more, that is pumping ever more crud into the air, land and sea, mostly thoughtlessly or carelessly, that is doing for these precious icons of nature.

And it is driven by a much broader set of entities all complicit in this, including those placing the ads such as those on p24 of the Mail, for M&S, suggesting we dash out and buy Mum a nice bunch of posies (from where?) and chocolates (wrapped in what?). Ditto Tesco on P30. Plus booze. Pampers at Sainsbury’s p18, if you fancy the next cause, guys. I personally support Green Nappies, but not sure what their ad budget is.

But I guess fewer bags might help... maybe along with those in papers that hold the inserts and FREE CDs, etc. And I do notice that on top of the efforts of the Indy and Guardian, the Telegraph today has a FREE 'eco-friendly bag' for each reader... which you need to send off for. Oh, just noticed; the Daily Mail too. What are they giving away next week to persuade us to buy their papers that gets posted back? The container ships (shipping is an issue, too, I imagine, for anything in the sea) from the East must be bulging! Bless.

And in the spirit of jumping bandwagons, as I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show today, there was the delicious irony of one caller in favour of an immediate Planet Ban-it (all anti's selected by being rabid 'who cares about nature' nutters), who had just 'flown in' from her dive business on the Red Sea... and these things were spoiling her UK clients' weekend getaways. Bless. Hope they cycle there and don't use sunscreen (apparently it kills coral).

Yes, things that are harmful to the environment do need to be identified and phased out where alternatives can be found (and maybe even if they cannot). But when the barely informed (I'm still on a steep learning curve - https://junkk.blogspot.com/2007/11/junkk-category-plastic-bags.html ) mob rules, careful what you wish for. Who knows what... or who... may be next in line?

Attempt 2 - in case it's repeated, sorry

  • 111.
  • At 06:53 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Pamela Emsley wrote:

I grew up in war time Britain,and there was no such thing as plastic bags,you took your own shopping bags or baskets with you,if you bought a loaf of bread you used to get a piece of tissue paper to wrap around the top of the loaf to carry it,and the loaf was not in a plastic bag either,We have all got lazy so I say take your bags with you to the store,most stores are selling reusable bags and are eco friendly.
So lets get with it.I also remember when Safeway gave you brown paper bags!!!!!

plastic bags for a few items are o.k, but i think a charge should be applied if re-usable are not used for a weekly shop, where 20 or more can be used. Tesco do a bag for life, which can be supplied free if it wears out.

  • 113.
  • At 07:10 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ann wrote:

Marks & Spencer's are the worst for putting your stuff in a plastic bag instead of asking if you really want one first. This morning I took it from the assistant and took my stuff out again and put it in the bag that I was carrying. Maybe they should start with educating their own workers.

  • 114.
  • At 07:15 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ruth Mayer wrote:

Very very upset about this!
What will I use for poop scooping when there are no more free plastic bags?

M&S being very coy about the money this move will save them!

Changing to paper bags would be even worse - that would mean fewer trees worldwide.

Big fuss over nothing. Spin in its purest form.

  • 115.
  • At 07:16 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • K Edwards wrote:

It's about time!

I was very used to being charged as much as 30p (50 Euro cents) for plastic bags when I lived on the Continent, or choosing recycled brown paper in North America. It helped change me into a tote-shopper.

When I moved to the UK a few years ago, I was shocked at the general attitude toward the environment--weak recycling, wait until China does something, excessive packaging, and those useless thin plastic bags. I was horrified to learn that there actually was an environment minister, Margaret Beckett, as she did nothing to even match standards achieved elsewhere many years earlier. Mother Nature seems determined to remind us that it is indeed our problem. Posturing politicans (with cars following their bikes) and corporations seeking the green profit only reflect the changing tide.

Good on you, M&S, although I'm sure their internal market research shows that their customer base was indeed out in front of them on this one.

Now, what steps will M&S (and the other retailers) take to train their staff to actually listen to you when you insist, "No plastic bags please"?

BTW, backpacks or rolling carts are best if you want to avoid back strain. And you can get those corrugated boxes that the supermarkets simply toss out for free!

As for totes, the M&S basic black coordinates best and packs flat and light enough to carry in the briefcase or even the latest It-bag. I cheekily use them everywhere, including Sainsbury's and Waitrose. But my over-sized bronze Gap tote still draws the most plaudits from the fashion-conscious. It's time to declare plastic a "Fashion Don't!"

  • 116.
  • At 07:28 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Suzanne Derringer wrote:

An excellent idea. Here in the US, it's unlikely that there would be a nationwide ban on these horrid little bags with a half-life of millennia, but local governments or states might do it. What we have at present is something like the M&S initiative: individual stores or chains no longer use them. Whole Foods is currently phasing them out. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joes offer reusable, sturdy shopping bags of recycled materials for a small charge (usually $1.99) or brown paper shopping bags (free). Even the paper bags should be phased out, or charged for - to induce shoppers to re-use, or bring their own cloth bags or baskets.

  • 117.
  • At 07:37 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Andrew Lydon wrote:

We use all our supermarket bags as bin liners. Nothing goes to waste.

So the only difference will be that we will have to *BUY* the bags/liners.

Is that saving the planet or lining the supermarket's pockets?


  • 118.
  • At 07:37 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Kenneth Barr wrote:

In New York City, the Council recently passed legislation that would require shops to accept the return of their plastic shopping bags for recycling.

  • 119.
  • At 07:42 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Bob Myers wrote:

It's not the bags that is the problem, it's the idiots that
aimlessly litter. The same with plastic bottles.Human beings are the the most destructive animal on earth.

  • 120.
  • At 09:33 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Sam Clements wrote:

its Not just up to M&S to wave a magic wand and earn good publicity. Every high street retailer needs to accept this as an issue and offer suitable options.

Here in High Wycombe, we're faced with 106 new shops opening in our ironically named "Eden Centre". To have a commercial centre by that name, which does nothing to reduce the many environmental impacts of commerce (of which bags are just one), simply smacks of insanity.

In just 2 weeks we collected 2000 signatures of approval for a plastic-bag ban in 'Eden' -- confirming it is a no brainer -- and the public knows that consumerism and convenience carry a ecological cost.

As my old man always says, nothing in life is free -- why shud plastic bags ever have been free?

In Cornwall, every Co-Op store gives out free bio-degradable bags. Why isn't every plastic-bag bio-degradable and charged for? Sure, there ARE times when we need disposability... I mean really, how many times will YOU re-use your curry-dripped and food-stained plastic bags?

But we need a multi-pronged solution: A universal and significant charge will prompt us to think ahead. Pay 20p for a bio-degradeable bag, or bring-your-own.

re: comment 77, from Marlon Campbell, complains it is a brainless campaign, but sadly the population is deconditioned out of reusing bags... where in your list of plastic-bag benefits does the environment come? We work all year, pollute without thought, and then expect to holiday in an untouched paradise, where we can forget about it all.

Non-biodegradable Plastic is the most common ingredient in disposable products -- can't we see the failure in this logic??!

Are we really that thick not to care? Or do we want to be known in history as the generation who simply couldn't be bothered.... Watch the BBC documentary "Message in the Waves" and judge your actions through your childrens' eyes.

Our Government should fully recognise these environmental problems, but fails to do so. Just as they don't recognise PEAK OIL,.... but that's for another newsnight debate.

Disposable plastic carrier bags would not be a problem if like many other sensible countries we generated energy from our waste.

  • 122.
  • At 10:37 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • M.R. Haley wrote:

I just returned from Guatemala, a bearutiful country in which every water way is clogged with plastic bottles and bags. Bags are not the only problem, how about water bottles? I think we should collect a primium on bottled water just as on aluminum cans to encourage recycling.

If we must use plastic let it be for reuseable containers.

  • 123.
  • At 10:40 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Wm. Buford Moore wrote:

I believe right-thinking people in their right minds realize this is mostly a symbolic gesture. Here in California the supermarkets will sell you a canvas reusable sack for groceries to save on the thin plastic bags (that people do return to the store, anyway, for recycling!). This is of course useless if one's purchases exceed the canvas bag's capacity. Also, Heaven help you if you take a "Gelson's" canvas bag into a "Whole Foods Market" and expect them to pack your purchases without buying THEIR canvas bag. Oil is a self-renewing renewable resource naturally made by the Earth, as are trees, contrary to what you've all been told, and so we're now all running out of Canvas! Save paper? Make a reusable wooden crate instead!

  • 124.
  • At 10:51 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Ian Walton wrote:

The low cost supermarket Aldi has been charging 3p for carrier bags for years. Is all the fuss because the middle class journalists from the BBC shop at M&S rather than Aldi? It's the affluent middle classes in Chelsea tractors with bottled water enjoying cheap flights to Italy that are causing the enviromental damage.
If you want to save the planet it's simple : make everyone poor.

  • 125.
  • At 10:52 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

Are we allowed to breath anymore?

Can't drive a 4x4, can't have a patio heater, can't use plastic bags, must not fly, must sit at home and live a sad lonely life, pathetic!

  • 126.
  • At 10:53 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • maggie manders wrote:

Buy your groceries from Waitrose and hve them delivered through their partners OCADO. OCADO use recyclable bags and take them back from me to be recycled at their own processing plant.

  • 127.
  • At 11:02 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jim Conner wrote:

Best of luck with this very sensible plan. It needs to be done everywhere.

Unfortunately I haven't here a word about similar steps here in the USA. Hopefully the UK will LEAD the Americans in another 21st Century idea.

My grocery store sells reusable bags for which they give a credit each time we use them at check out. We use them always.

The USA has in several states - ours is one of them - that requires a 10 cent (5p) refundable deposit on all fizzy drink containers. This has completely eliminated this country-side trash. They need now to institute the same plan for bottled water and juice containers that are proliferating and bliting the roads and parks.

  • 128.
  • At 11:27 PM on 28 Feb 2008,
  • Jake Johnson wrote:

The interviewees totally missed the point in framing plastic bag use as being linked to reducing carbon emissions- noone claims this- it is the environmental damage the bags cause themselves, to wildlife and to watercourses and drainage systems and the extremely long decay cycle that is the point which they seemed to completely ignore.

And to the person that claimed that "Oil is a self-renewing renewable resource naturally made by the Earth"- yes it is, if you're willing to wait a few million years when this lot runs out!

  • 129.
  • At 12:15 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Hey, in these days of iminent Global Warming can I be the first to to start a campaign to stop shops fron having giant hair dryers over their entrances instead of doors? I live in the north of England, which is usually considered cold at the best of times, and most of the shops have their doors wide open all day in the middle of winter. And for the privilidge of having this benefit, they put the cost of this wasted heat onto the price of the goods. So,to me, reducing the use of plastic bags maybe desireable but is only a small part of the problem that is Corporate waste.

  • 130.
  • At 12:20 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Dan Hanrahan wrote:

What everybody seems to forget about this issue on plastic bags is that most people do not think twice about whether or not they need one at the point of sale. It is all very well giving ‘incentives’ such as extra points or 2 pence off your bill, but this only tends to have an effect on people that already have some sort of ‘green’ conscience who would think twice about taking a plastic bag anyway. The real reason we need to introduce a blanket charge across the UK is to stop the mindless giving of plastic bags by the staff in our supermarkets. Every time I shop in any supermarket, whether I have 2 products or 10, the cashier will automatically place the product into a bag almost as a reflex. I have lost count of the amount of times that I have had to say, “I don’t need a bag”, when all I have is a few carrots. Some supermarkets have trained their staff to at least ask if you want one, yet in my experience they get bored of asking this question and the amount of bags given out returns to its previous level. At least ask, “do you need a plastic bag”, not “do you want one”.
Some may say that this is another tax, but if that is what it takes to change shopping habits and reverse this mindless dishing out of unnecessary plastic, then so be it.
In early 2002 the Irish Government introduced a 15 cent bag tax and within 6 months, the amount of bags being handed out had reduced by 90 percent. Whatever way you look at it, this has to be a good thing. Some may argue that this tax would not be fair on the poorer population, but I would argue that most people have a mountain of used plastic bags in their homes which they don’t think to bring with them on a shopping trip. This tax would gradually condition us to think twice before we left our homes on a shopping trip and make us bring one along, it only takes a second to grab a bag or two on your way out the door.
This levy can only change consumer behaviour for the better and will also bring about a shift in national conscience towards environmental issues. The only way to change a nations’ behaviour is by hitting them in the pocket and the sooner the government stops tip toeing around this issue and introduces a nationwide 10 pence environmental levy on plastic bags, the better.
Congratulations to M&S for taking their own initiative on this matter, but it should really be 10p to make a complete difference, yet they are too scared of losing revenue to their rivals.

  • 131.
  • At 01:48 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Alix from Australia wrote:

Great idea to charge for plastic bags to reduce demand. Probably the most effective way for consumers to see the cost involved with using them and to reduce demand.
However supermarkets, shops etc already factor the cost of plastic bags into their prices so I believe if consumers are going to pay upfront charge for plastic bags ( which I support) then supermarkets, shops etc need to remove that pricing aspect from their goods prices.

When I first arrived in December 1989, no plastic bags, no plastic cups, no throwaways existed in India. People shopped with cloth bags, drank out of lovely little clay cups and used handkies or washcloths. I left in 1991. Some months later India opened its market doors to the US. When I returned to the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in 1995, hillsides, roadways, streets and railtracks were carpeted with plastic bags, cups, throwaways; sewers were choked with them; cows, goats, donkeys were dying from ingesting them along with refuse. Two years later, India began to abolish plastic bags, though not plastic cups--gradually. Hopefully, by now, the country is clean of the plastic menace! Yeap, right, the UK is finally coping to the waste, the nuisance, the abomination of plastics. Let's hope the US follows suit in the near future. It takes us westerners a while to get smart, doesn't it...?


.

New Yorkers are beginning to use string bags such as those in Italy and France. A law banning plastic bags was very recently passed in New York. It was proposed by our forward-thinking Mayor Bloomberg. He's researching and developing ideas about traffic control in London where in Kensington he rents an ever-so-lovely townhouse. London, Paris and Venice are the most beautiful cities. I'm sure the UK will quickly sort out this issue. Then a handy string bag in the brief case will be the norm in all three cities. I read the post from India. Amazing ... how much "first-world countries" have to learn from countries that don't waste petroleum.

  • 134.
  • At 07:40 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • SANJAY BHATT wrote:

STOP PLASTIC BAG..... IMMEDIATELY

A PENALTY/FINE needs to be implemented at the earliest

plastic bag are destroying
our world day by day killing
animals & changing climate

STOP PLASTIC BAG..... keyslogan
war cry

  • 135.
  • At 09:52 AM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Tracey Petsivas wrote:

Many comments have suggested using paper bags. The increase in the use of paper will lead to more trees being chopped down, so I don't see that this is beneficial to the environment. Cotton bags and the like are the best idea. The provision of the plastic bag cannot be banned altogether, how will the impromtu shopper carry his stuff home? But any measure to decrease the use of the plastic bag is to be welcomed, even if this measure is a charge. It stops people using more than is necessary.

I personally have a Tesco shopping bag, which I use whenever I can, or when I remember to carry it with me!

  • 136.
  • At 02:18 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Chris Smith wrote:

There are really two sides to the plastics bags debate - energy use and litter.
Plastics bags - especially the very thin single use ones - are actually very good from an energy use and carbon emissions perspective and if collected, reused and recycled provide a more environmentally acceptable option than alternatives such as paper.
The claim that plastics bags will last 1,000 years are ridiculous. Polyethylene bags were introduced to consumers in the 1940s-50s (when they were washed and re-used because they were so costly) and I don't believe any are still around. However, if they are discarded in the street they will hang around for quite a long time.
Litter is one of the main reasons they have been banned in places such as India and China - in less developed societies they can be a huge litter problem and they can harm wildlife and livestock and block drainage systems. To be fair, other carelessly discarded materials can present similar problems.
But rather than banning the bag here in the UK we should take more interest in our waste in general. We can use re-usable bags to reduce our waste generation and when we dispose of plastics bags – single use or multi use – we should do it responsibly. Plastics bags are all made from the same type of plastic and can be easily recycled and used again - if they are taken out of the waste stream and collected. That allows us to maximise the energy investment we have made in the material – and so keeps down carbon emissions.
But don’t forget that, in environmental terms, plastics bags are just the very tip of the iceberg. That's not to say we should not consider what we can do in that area but as a society we seem to be putting all our efforts into addressing less than 0.1% of our problem. That really seems to be the wrong way around. Aircraft travel, domestic and business energy consumption, road transport - fractional improvements in these areas will have much more impact on carbon emissions.

They should switch to 100% degradable bags instead.

The local Co-op store that I use gives out bags that are fully degradable in just 6 months.

https://www.guardian.co.uk/waste/story/0,12188,784484,00.html

  • 138.
  • At 06:33 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • P.I.Cottrell wrote:

Some twenty years ago I bought Plastic boxes from Sainsbury's. They cost me £5.00 at that time and I have used them ever since. I use them at all Tesco and other supermarkets. I always get a few pence back on my bill. I always refuse plastic bags and I tell people " I'm saving the world for my grandchildren". I get funny looks , but I'm years ahead of everyone else.

  • 139.
  • At 06:57 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • J Cooke wrote:

Whilst being concerned for many years about environmental issues it is always irritating to hear the blame placed upon the public and our 'consumerism'.

So why don't the supermarkets replace their plastic shopping bags with brown paper ones instead of talking about charging for the problematic plastic bags which doesn't really address the issue? This could be offset by ridding all products of the useless packaging such as cardboard sleeves and cereal packets. The comments about saving trees are ridiculous since paper is a sustainable crop like any other - the real issue and irony here is that rainforest trees are disappearing as a result of a demand for biofuel.

Paper bags were ideal for vegetables and I don't recall the public demanding plastic ones. 'Brown' waste is an essential ingredient for composting; without some waste paper or cardboard potential compost would just go mouldy.

The main difficulty is carrying a bag for casual shopping; no-one seems to have mentioned the good old-fashioned string bag. Cotton is not exactly environment friendly but hemp is traditional and ideal, but it is banned as politicians mistake it for cannabis.

The bigger issue for me is of needless waste (I don't buy the CO2 argument - it is essential for life unlike carcinogenic diesel particulates which you get a tax break to produce!) and once again it is the public that is blamed rather than big corporations - who was it that put an end to deposit glass bottles? Lets have our bottled water in those - and yes we need bottled water because our politicians still seem intent on polluting our supplies with fluoride (not to mention releasing GMOs into the environment).

It might be a better idea to ban the supermarkets along with their plastic bags so we can support our local farm shops.

  • 140.
  • At 08:25 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Teresa Belton wrote:

Of course we should minimise plastic bag production and use, but let's be clear why it's necessary. The issue with plastic bags and plastic bottles is not so much the energy used in manufacturing them (although this should not be discounted). The reasons we should do without them are threefold: plastic items and fragments kill large numbers of sea birds and other wild creatures; plastic is made out of oil, a finite resosurce and one so important that wars are fought over it; the only means of disposal is landfill - and who wants to sacrifice coutryside to old plastic! Climate change needs to be very seriously addressed, but getting rid of plastic is about addressing a different environmental issue

  • 141.
  • At 11:53 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Jake Johnson wrote:

Unfortunately biodegradable bags are not really the answer as they require high temperature industrial composters to actually break down- otherwise they provide pretty much as bad an environmental hazard as normal plastic bags. The main issue here is not really with all plastic bags- it is foremost with the thin variety most commonly given out free- these are the ones that end up stuck in the trees/foliage, blocking up drains, harming wildlife etc. Thick long lasting plastic bags are certainly better, and string/cotton/canvas bags or baskets the most green options.

  • 142.
  • At 12:10 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • victoria fontaine-wolf wrote:

I used to live in Germany where all supermarkets charge for plastic bags, so naturally you take them or a basket to do the shopping.When the bag got a bit worn I used it as a bin liner. Last time I was in Germany I bought a couple of nylon bags which fold up to a tiny size in their own little packet so they're small enough to always keep in a handbag and hold as much as a normal bag, but are much tougher. They cost EUR 2 each in a drugstore.
Boots and Superdrug ought to sell them too. They're really convenient. Maybe I should import them!

  • 143.
  • At 12:17 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • victoria fontaine-wolf wrote:

I used to live in Germany where all supermarkets charge for plastic bags, so naturally you take them or a basket to do the shopping.When the bag got a bit worn I used it as a bin liner. Last time I was in Germany I bought a couple of nylon bags which fold up to a tiny size in their own little packet so they're small enough to always keep in a handbag and hold as much as a normal bag, but are much tougher. They cost EUR 2 each in a drugstore.
Boots and Superdrug ought to sell them too. They're really convenient. Maybe I should import them!

  • 144.
  • At 01:10 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Susan Quick wrote:

My home town, Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, went plastic bag free a few months ago, not long after a TV programme looking at the effect of plastic on wild life and our environment. Wonderful that we are taking the lead in eliniminating plastic bags in our shops I thought. Then I began to notice the extent of plastic Britain. If only it were just plastic bags. Look around you, everything we buy is wrapped in plastic,even the containers of the washing-up liquid, the face cream, that we buy in the organic shop. Not to mention the bag the plug comes in, the container for my computer and telephone wipes. And what about the keyboard I am typing on. How on earth do we move beyond destrying our planet with plastic? Getting rid of plastic shopping bags is only the beginning, the very beginning.

  • 145.
  • At 04:41 AM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Robbie Blake wrote:

Yes, ban plastic bags. Now, move on to the more important things.

The rate of growth (and excessive harm) of aviation emissions for example. Or new-build coal-fired power stations.

It is perfectly clear that Gordon Brown has gone for political populism but has not a green bone in his body. He comes from a different age and a political ideology that cannot cope with the requirements - and opportunities - of reorienting a society to within ecological limits. He hasn't got the courage, or I think conviction, to take the very tough decisions necessary now to avert climate chaos, preferring instead to tinker with statistics and brush the rest under the carpet. This is despite public acceptance of strong action, if distributed equitably.

Plastic bag tokenism and "green consumerism" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) won't wash. Brown will go down in history as one of the greater titanic-chair-re-arrangers.

Meanwhile voters (at least this one) are utterly disenfranchised. Direct action on parliamentary roofs is one of the few remaining options.

  • 146.
  • At 07:26 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Danladi Mohammed wrote:

I am presently a Post Graduate research student in Pollution and Waste management. My research is on the effect of Polyethene bags in a developing country's environment - harzard to drainages, pipeline and small animals.

I strongly support charging whoever has any business with polyethene bags from the manufacturer to the user, this will surely go along way in reducing the severity of the problem.

  • 147.
  • At 07:52 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Wendell Thomas wrote:

plastic bags are clearly useful to many people,although many others would like to get rid of them. If it's worth charging for them,put the money towards producing and selling bio-degradable bags.thus all those sold are no longer damaging the environment.
Just to sell the existings bags for 5p each is to raise their profits.

  • 148.
  • At 05:06 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • praveen wrote:

Ban the plastic bags.That's a great step and it should be followed not only in Ireland but also in other states to protect the environment

  • 149.
  • At 10:29 PM on 02 Mar 2008,
  • john wrote:

My Tesco bag says it's 100% degradable so I assume as long as it goes straight into a land fill, without blowing around the countryside for a while, it will rot away.

I didn't see what the Mail on Sunday was served up in today....I wondered if it was a plastic bag as usual, with an economical use of paper!

  • 150.
  • At 01:07 PM on 03 Mar 2008,
  • Nic Davies wrote:

I took the photo of the Cuvier's beaked whale that washed up on a beach on the Isle of Mull in Scotland (as featured in the Daily Mail last Thursday).

Shortly after this photo was taken a scientific team turned up to examine the animal in detail. None of us could believe what appeared from the animal's stomach, leaving us in little doubt about what had killed this whale.

Among hundreds of squid beaks were armfuls of plastic bags! We had never seen anything like it.

It's a shame that all those who extol the virtues of freely available plastic bags are not able to witness such scenes for themselves as I'm sure it would change their minds.

  • 151.
  • At 06:15 AM on 05 Mar 2008,
  • Malcolm Manuta wrote:

Before I comment, would anyone like to tell me how long can one plastic bag really be effetive on human or even animal lives?

As a New Zealander living in Samoa for the last 30 years,The banning of Shopping plastic bags was enforced in 2002. But as usual, it was only a said rule,and probably carried out with in 2 days, then eveything returned back, as it was.

Samoans are used to the fact that whenever you go shopping you ALWAYS expect your shopping to be packed in plastic bags.If not then the Shopkeeper better watch out!

Advertisements are very encouraging on TV and even Radios. But still we tend to ignore it's importance!

My opinion alone is that, banning the use of plastic bags is a good idea if it really effects human lives.I know appeareances can be deceiving, just like here in Samoa, we don't see a problem with the use of plastic bags, we only know that it helps us carry our shopping home.And therefore we enjoy the services that plastic bags offer!

  • 152.
  • At 01:07 PM on 05 Mar 2008,
  • karen smart wrote:

Why does everything have to take so long in the UK!
Just reminding myself how incredulous shop girls where when I refused their wonderful plastic - that's only 2 years ago. Now I am being asked every time 'do you need a bag - however, it is still offered, even just for buying the papers.
The way it should be surely is for the shopper to ask - and to be thoroughly ashamed every time.

  • 153.
  • At 03:16 PM on 06 Mar 2008,
  • David Bull wrote:

We discussed this topic in an English class in our College today. The students' opinions were as follows :
1)I think instead of earning money from plastic bags it's better if we educate people not only about plastic bags but also about other types of waste;
2) the concept of getting people to pay for plastic bags that will rarely be used again has started a great debate between shops and customers, yet if this idea is going to help the environment then I believe it will be a commendable one;
3) I doubt if it will make any difference if they ban the use of plastic bags. People will just pollute the environment in other ways
4) Invest the earnings from the bags in research into recycling or finding alternative, sustainable materials.
So that means 2 in favour of a ban and 2 against. So clearly it isn't a no brainer....

  • 154.
  • At 04:27 AM on 08 Mar 2008,
  • gary wrote:

cant we jus get a penny for each bag we return then you will have kids all over the country picking up bags to get the money back then eventually phase them out completly

  • 155.
  • At 07:41 PM on 09 Mar 2008,
  • jenn favelle-goldsmith wrote:

FINALLY! i think this a brilliant step to take towords saving the planet. M and S are great! mayby they should have a reduction on those bags-for-life, only one or so to a customer or something, just before they put in having to pay for the bags that way it's more likly people are going to still shop at m and s instead of going somewhere else. M and S, i sulute you!

  • 156.
  • At 01:46 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • mary e lee wrote:

i wish to stop using plastic carry bags alltogether. but when i buy veg and friut the choice is plastic or nothing. so i am on the net looking for a supplyer of paper bags i can take shopping with me. all i can find is fancy gift bags where to go now .

  • 157.
  • At 06:23 AM on 15 Mar 2008,
  • mohammed iqbal wrote:

It is a fact that we can not avoid using plastics, but we can live without plastic bags and leave the earth for a better living by all other living creatures

  • 158.
  • At 06:06 PM on 17 Mar 2008,
  • Reg Toye wrote:

I allways go shoping with my own shoping bag, Just like MUM did,

I hate plastic bags,

  • 159.
  • At 03:46 PM on 21 Mar 2008,
  • Danielle wrote:

I myself shop with reuseable carriers, and I do my part to help with the environment. I think that if stores want to charge for plastic bags that is great, however I don't think gov't should be involved. People should do the right thing because they have been educated about why plastic bags are harmful, not because there is one more thing the gov't controls in our lives.

  • 160.
  • At 01:16 PM on 22 Mar 2008,
  • Henry Rado wrote:

It is obvious that bought goods at supermarkets have to be carried away.
Why not use empty cardoard boxes in which supermarkets goods come.

  • 161.
  • At 01:16 PM on 22 Mar 2008,
  • s rogers wrote:

I and my Husband feel the whole issue of plastic bags should be placed squarely on the shoulders of the retailers. They have caused the problem albeit with good intent.But given their vast profits they could and should supply an enviromentally friendly alternative for free. It would maintain their customer loyalty as well as encouraging new customers to shop with them. the giants like Tesco Asda and others should take the lead in this matter.

  • 162.
  • At 02:09 PM on 22 Mar 2008,
  • Graham Nightingale wrote:

If advertising was banned on ALL shopping bags I think that would stop them being handed out.

  • 163.
  • At 08:04 PM on 22 Mar 2008,
  • Derek Phibes wrote:

News 24 appear to be completely unashamed of their repeated lack of factual reporting.

As I write this a BBC News 24 announcer says that Denmark's use of plastic bags has fallen by more than two thirds, while the caption underneath says "Down by more than 65%". (If the difference means nothing to you then apply for a job as a BBC News presenter or editor.)

Now I'm no longer surprised by the occasional poor reporting in BBC News (for example, BBC News apparently being unable to differentiate between US & British soldiers despite the Brits carrying SA80's) but really, if you've got a fact to report then report it, and not variations of what you think the fact is.

Next thing you know BBC will be reporting that Tuesday is Thursday.

  • 164.
  • At 09:35 PM on 30 Mar 2008,
  • Shaun Robinson wrote:

I have read somewhere that plastic bags are made from a bi-product, naptha, which if not used to make plastic would simply be wasted.

Is this correct?

If this is correct, doesnt this make the plastic bag potentially greener than bags which are made using more valuable resources such as corn, which could be used to feed parts of the third world.

If plastic bags are made from a waste product surely the main issue is the length that plastic degrades and the amount of space it takes up in land fill.

I have read somewhere else that an additive can be added to plastic to make it degrade within a short space of time and that the Co-op and Tesco use such additive in their carier bags and other plastic packaging. This seem like a very simple and cost effective solution to the key problem.

Seems to me, if the above is correct, that journalists are not clearly representing the debate on plastic and plastic bags and that the plastic bag is being used as a PR/Political statement.

Plastic bags are very light and convenient - especially for the lazy male shopper.

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