17 billion reasons to put a stop to UK's plastic bags giveaway
It's time we put a stop to plastic carrier bags. Not next year or 2015, but now.
And why? There are 17 billion reasons. That's the number of plastic carrier bags given away by supermarkets in the UK every year. That's 290 bags per person.
In Britain we currently recover only 5 per cent of the plastics we produce. What happens to the rest?
Roughly 50 per cent is buried in landfills, some is remade into durable goods, and much of it remains "unaccounted for", lost in the environment where it ultimately washes out to sea.
It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic bag to decompose.
While we applaud Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's announcement that a 5p charge for plastic bags will be introduced by the Government in 2015, it is simply too little too late.
As Friends of the Earth said in its response, this is a "small step that will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain".
Stroud Town Council has decided time is running out and that we have to do something now to reduce this huge waste and pollution. That is why we have launched our own campaign STOP – Stroud Town Opposes Plastic (bags and packaging).
People can change their habits. We saw it in the Devon town of Modbury where they banished plastic bags five years ago. Consumer magazine Which? found that 56 per cent of those surveyed in England were in support of a plastic bag levy.
Wales, the first nation to introduce the charge in October 2011, reported a 76 per cent drop in the number of plastic bags issued. In Northern Ireland there was a drop in excess of 80 per cent in "several" major supermarkets following the charge. Scotland will launch its charge in October 2014.
So can people be convinced to change their habits without a levy? Well it happened in Modbury and we are confident it can happen in Stroud.
For those in doubt of why they should support STOP we are providing a free showing of the award-winning film Trashed on September 29. It features actor Jeremy Irons looking at what we are doing to our planet.
One of the most disturbing statistic revealed in Trashed is that some 80 per cent of the British population lives within 2 km of known landfill sites in Great Britain. The film found small excess risks of congenital anomalies and low and very low birth weight in populations living near landfill sites.
As 50 per cent of our plastic ends up in landfill sites surely it is time to call a halt. The rest that end in the sea is already having a serious affect on sea life.
Time has run out for us to continue to be a throw-away society. We all have a role to play. Let's be honest, it is hardly a great hardship for us all to start using reusable bags and for the supermarkets to start offering paper carriers.