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People Are Calling For A Complete Ban On Plastic Bags In The UK

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People Are Calling For A Complete Ban On Plastic Bags In The UK

A charity is calling for a complete ban on plastic bags in the UK, arguing that supermarkets ditching single use plastics in shops simply isn't enough.

Organised by community-focused, non-profit organisation Planet Patrol, the Big Bag Ban is supported by the likes of Greenpeace, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Julia Bradbury, Bonnie Wright, Fearne Cotton and Laura Whitmore as well as "other leading public figures, NGOs, activists, academics, cross-party MPs and Peers".

There's not enough incentive to stop using single-use plastic (Credit: PA Images)
There's not enough incentive to stop using single-use plastic (Credit: PA Images)

It is striving for an "outright ban on single use carrier bags" to further push the UK's environmental efforts, echoing laws already in place in Kenya, Bangladesh and several US states.

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The charity explains on its website that since the government introduced the 5p plastic bag charge in 2015, single use bag sales may have dropped, but Bag for Life sales have "rocketed" - adding that to say any real environmental progress has been made would be "incredibly misleading".

The letter highlights the issue with Bags for Life (Credit: PA)
The letter highlights the issue with Bags for Life (Credit: PA)

As a result, Planet Patrol has sent an Open Letter to Environment Secretary, George Eustice, explaining what action they expect him to take.

The letter reads: "Today, we ask the UK government to begin proceedings for an outright ban on single-use carrier bags, a ban that is inclusive of traditional single-use plastic bags and Bags for Life. We also ask for more accountability and transparency, from the Government and from major supermarkets, on how plastic bags are sold and how proceeds from plastic bag charges are used.

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"Countries including Kenya and Bangladesh, as well as a growing number of US states, have already passed legislative bans on all single-use bags. With the 'elimination of all avoidable plastic waste' as a tenet of the Government's 25 Year Plan to improve the environment, the plastic waste contributed by supermarkets and other retailers cannot endure."

Planet Patrol say the ban on single-use bags isn't enough (Credit: PA)
Planet Patrol say the ban on single-use bags isn't enough (Credit: PA)

The letter then cites findings which shows that while single-use bag sales have fallen, sales for Bags for Life have rocketed, and continue to increase year on year. In fact, one major supermarket saw an increase of almost tenfold, from 3.5 million in 2018 to 34 million in 2019.

"We welcomed the government's effort to reduce plastic waste by introducing a 5p single use plastic bag charge in 2015. However, reports on its success are misleading. Though it is claimed that the levy has led to a 95 per cent cut in plastic bag sales in supermarkets, statistics only account for sales of single-use carrier bags and make no mention of the huge increase in Bag for Life sales since 2015."

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On average, each UK household took home as many as 57 Bags for Life in 2019 alone - a 65 per cent increase since 2017, proving they very much aren't living up to their names.

The letter goes on: "The environmental footprint of misused Bags for Life is concerning. It is estimated that these items can contain more than three times as much plastic as a single-use version.

The letter says even Bags for Life should be banned (Credit: PA)
The letter says even Bags for Life should be banned (Credit: PA)

"With this in mind, the 1.58 billon Bags for Life and the 564 million single use bags issued by retailers in 2019-29 mean overall plastic consumption for carrier bags is a significant contributor to the pressing issue of plastic pollution, which the Government has identified as a priority."

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It concludes by pointing out that the 10p plastic bag levy isn't enough to make a significant dent in our country's plastic waste.

"Because the proposed levy only affects single use bags and not Bags for Life, it means the latter can continue to a) be sold as single-use alternatives [and] b) contribute to the pressing problem of plastic waste," the letter states.

"It's clear that bolder and more ambitious legislative action is urgently needed to fix this issue. his is why the undersigned are calling for an outright ban on plastic bags."

You can sign the pledge and put your name behind the cause here.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Environment, UK News, Life News, Shopping

Joanna Freedman
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