It was with great joy that I heard yesterday that a 5p charge on plastic bags is to come into force in England from 2015. It is a ruling long overdue I feel. Ironically I have just come out of Wales which is a part of the United Kingdom that has had the plastic bag charge since 1st October 2011. Consequently usage has been reduced by 75% in the region. Quite impressive. There have inevitably been complaints but when one thinks about it, it isn’t another tax at all but simply a way of ensuring we do not become overly lazy. It is perfectly easy for us all to bring extra bags with us when we do our shopping. They can be stored in the back of the car and we can easily remind ourselves to remember bags before we leave. Further, even if we do have to purchase bags we are safe in the knowledge that the money will go towards good causes.
Is 5p enough? Should it be 10p? I would suggest that 5p will be enough to force a change in attitude and practice without making things too expensive for those consumers who want to continue purchasing bags. This ruling is not going to change the world but it will go far in helping our environment in a small way. The number of bags having to be cleaned up from our beaches, parks, fields and watercourses will be (I predict) dramatically reduced and it will go a small way to reducing land-fill rates.
On a side note I’d like to thank everyone who came to Anglesey with me this week to work with the North Wales Wildlife Trust. It was a lot of fun and I feel that we achieved a lot.