PLASTIC BAGS ARE USED WORLDWIDE
Source: findings from a BPMA survey and Edelman Good Purpose Studyand the Earth Policy Institute
Floating rubbish dumps of plastic and non-degradable waste, roughly the size of Texas, gather in swirling currents to deposit in the coastal regions of the North Pacific Ocean, including Hawaii. – Greenpeace
Plastic never breaks down and has a devastating effect on wildlife. Small particles of plastic when ingested by sealife, can mimic hormones suppressing their ability to reproduce – BBC
8,000,000,000 single-use carrier bags were handed out in 2013. That is 57,000 tones of plastic bags.
Plastic Bag manufacture is particularly wasteful for the environment.The Earth Policy Institute stipulates that “The amount of energy required to make 12 plastic bags could drive a car for a mile.” 1 Plastic bags are also made from limited fossil fuels , The bags are typically “made from natural gas or petroleum that formed over millions of years, yet they are often used for mere minutes before being discarded to make their way to a dump or incinerator—if they don’t blow away and end up as litter first.”1 earth-policy.org
The popularity of plastic grocery bags stems from their light weight and their perceived low cost, but it is these very qualities that make them unpleasant, difficult, and expensive to manage. Over one third of all plastic production is for packaging, designed for short-term use.
Reusable bags are not the silver bullet to the environmental issues that we face as a planet. However they are a first-step to change behaviour at the Everyman level. We don’t believe in greenwashing, but we do believe that micro-deeds have the power to inspire, educate and empower, especially our future generations.
Why the 5p Plastic Bag Levy matters
Retailers stepping ahead
In October 2015, England announced a 5p plastic bag levy for all large retailers and for independent retailers that employ over 250 people. This has stimulated the larger retailers to think about their bag offering at the check-outs and at other points of purchase. This has a positive impact on reducing the amount of waste currently being contributed to the environment and to cutting costs and resources used in the production of plastic bags.
Marks and Spencer introduced a 5p charge on food carrier bags in 2008, which saw a reduction of 75% in usage and raised more than £10m for good causes.
Scotland introduced the levy in 2014. The Scottish government says that 650m fewer disposable bags were used the 12 months following the levy. There is already a similar 5p charge on single-use bags in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Key Environmental policies by retailers in the UK
In 2007, Marks & Spencer unveiled a P200m “eco-plan” to make it carbon neutral in five years. M & S said ” Plan A” was its contribution to the battle against climate change. “There is in no Plan B”. By 2012 it expects to be carbon neutral, send no waste to landfill and “set new standards in ethical trading”.
The Co-op Group, is probably the prime mover of the retail environmentalists. In 2007 it won the Business Commitment to the Environment award after reducing its carbon emission by 86 percent and introducing a policy that prohibits it from investing in any business whose core activity contributes to climate change.
Tesco‘s strategy has involved a P100 million fund for investment in sustainable environmental technology such as wind turbines, solar panels, combined here and power and gasification and has announced it will cut its energy use per square foot by one-half by 2010 against a baseline of 2000.It will also encourage its customers to use biofuels and help them to save energy in their homes. Its strategy is to be the ‘best’ supermarket for energy uses.