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back to article Plastic police to enforce London bag ban?

The M25 will become the UK’s biggest environmental fault line if London Councils decide to press ahead with plans to ban plastic bags in the capital. The proposed ban will result in some kind of bag police patrolling London to make sure retailers and shoppers carry all their purchases, gym kit, old clothes, nappies, household …

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Stop

Oh really.

"90 per cent of Londoners"

Nae c**t asked me!

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Stop

I will feel safer at night

Knowing that I am not going to be mugged by a plastic bag toting drug addled nutjob with a rap sheet as long as his arm out on good behaviour.

I will of course get mugged by the parking attendant and speed cameras - but then being told to pay up or go to court, or indeed be clamped - is not extracting monies with threats.

Jolly good, chin up, what what?

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Boffin

90% of Londoners?

1752 people is 90% of 7.5 million?

I know its from the makers of Excel but my Windowas calc says .023% is closer to the truth and I'm inclined to believe it.

Is this a new RegStandard for percentage calculations being used here?

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Anonymous Coward

If we need evidence....

...of paying too much Council Tax, then this is it.

Why don't they just ban shops from providing one-shot plastic bags.

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Flame

Oh, for fuck's sake

Is this going to stop supermarkets & suppliers from wrapping everything we buy in bloody plastic? No. It's going to mean *we* end up being charged more and harassed by pettifogging officials.

If you want less plastic, say to retailers 'Right you lot, you're not allowed to use 'X' type of packaging anymore'. Will they all go out of business? No. Will they stop trading in the UK? No.

Granted, they'll try and shift as much of the cost of changing their methods as possible onto the consumer (plus a bit extra, because they can), but that will stabilise, because one will start to undercut another (and be seen to be more kindly and 'green' in the process).

But why do that when you could empower people in uniform to annoy the public for having the wrong kind of bag? I for one welcome our new bag-judging overlords!

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IT Angle

Ian Blair should resign

So is this the story that has been put out to distract the Londoners from their "Ian Blair should resign" activities?

I was expecting it to be an "MP sex outrage" story.

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Anonymous Coward

Ban Political scum-bags

So Londoners call for action of plastic bags. In other countries this has been done by making supermarkets charge a few pence for a plastic bag, thereby encouraging people to re-use their plastic bags or buy more permanent bags.

An easy cheap simple fix. I reuse my plastic bags, and carry my lunch in a reused plastic bag, paper isn't practical in case my lunch leaks and as long as it's reused it's enviromentally friendly.

This requirement then comes to the UK, and suddenly it becomes complex taxes and plastic police enforcing outright bans on shopping bags? No doubt driving around in diesel vans to enforce it? Sounds like people playing politics, why not just make a bylaw that requires supermarkets and shops in London charge a minimum 5p for a plastic bag?

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Stop

Hm,

So my long years of plastic bag collecting will all go to waste when I am forced to stop REUSING my plastic bags? Am I to be made to throw them away? I was led to believe they are non-recyclable, what then to do with the bags that have had many times their intended use?

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Ash
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Only London?

Why not the whole country? The sooner the better IMO.

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IT Angle

Good

No matter how noble you feel about the environment its just easier to forget to take a reusable one with you when you go the shops, so the end result is a cupboard full of the bloody things.

Never mind a ban, these are businesses we're talking about, so just slap a 5p tax on each bag and they'd go "we're not paying that, the customers can bring their own" instantly.

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Pirate

I'm no enviro-weenie, but...

...why a ban, and why just London? Ireland put a levy on plastic bags years ago and it worked a treat. Plastic bag use dropped about 90% overnight and retailers switched to paper/reusable bags (usually passing the cost to the customer for the latter, but taking the hit for the former). The Irish government made a tidy profit as well. I don't think many people would object to this.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

No need to worry about how you carry your gym kit.

It's alright, the ban is on one-use throwaway bags. If you're using a plastic bag to carry your gym kit ( or anything else other than carrying your shopping home in the first place ) it's on it's second use at least and is thus an exemplary case of recycling in action.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't bode well...

"A ban would be easier to enforce compared to a levy although there may be difficulties in the outer areas of London where it could be difficult to prove the source of the bags."

That statement shows that they would police this by stopping people on the street and demanding to know where they got their carrier bags rather than going into the supermarkets and seeing if they're giving out plastic bags. Yet another area of life where you will be required to prove your innocence.

And what about people who reuse plastic bags? You'll have to get rid of those Tesco bags from under the kitchen sink if you don't want to be hassled by the police everytime you go shopping or simply need to carry something in a bag.

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why?

Why the hell would you need to ban plastic bags?

I have a drawer in my kitchen where I place all my shopping bags after emptying them, I don't throw them out and my kitchen drawer seems to regularly run out of bags, so I must be using them for something.

Most supermarkets recycle bags. Tesco give you extra points for re-using bags ans sainsburys have collection points to return unused bags (which do get put back to the till area)

So where is the problem?

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Bronze badge

It's a 'False Finishing Touch'

Their action implies that all larger problems have been dealt with. Everything else is rosy, so let's move on to the relatively minor issue of plastic bags. It's almost exactly the same thing as putting a 6-inch tailpipe and a wing on a clapped-out $1000 Honda Civic.

It is a 'False Finishing Touch'.

Watch for these FFTs and you'll see them everywhere.

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Boffin

Start saving now?

For those who would see this as some sort of opportunity to save bags and sell them on e-bay five years later there may be a slight problem.

Quite a lot of the bags are photo-degradable and I'm not sure if a Jiffy bag of white dust sold as 'Genuine Tesco 2006' will go down too well.

Meanwhile, the Paris angle --

"No one ever paid to watch Britney Spears dancing in a skintight catsuit made from hemp." Poor use of hemp.

Either round the neck or in a bong.

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Joke

Great Idea

I think this a brilliant plan. Having managed to get the massive influx of illegal immigrants under control (what illegal immigrants?), and with londoners feeling safer than ever with such low, almost non-existent crime levels (gun crime? What's a bullet?), the police/community support officers clearly need to put themselves to work as bag stoppers (Could that be their official title?). What else would they do? Londoners are among the most happy people in the country, probably the world with the extremely brilliant ruling they've had of recent years....

I can see it now... "Bag Police! You in aisle 12, put your hands up and the plastic bag down! Don't make me taser you!". Then as crime is non existent we can do away with Crime stoppers and have Bag Stoppers instead - "Have you seen someone with a plastic bag? Then call today and do away with these inconsiderate scum"

However your article missed something - what happens if someone is caught with a bag? I vote for 3 strikes. 1, you get an asbo. 2, they have legal right to club you over the head (men, women, old people, kids, whatever). 3 they should calculate how long you'd have to serve in jail as a paedo, then double it to make a point that other crimes are clearly not as important. In face, if there's no room, they can just release a few mass murderers to make space for you, that'll stop people doing it.

On a side note, Joke alert is great, but there's a need for an icon for severe sarcasm warning

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Excellent sense of priorities there

Are we honestly meant to believe that polythene is the biggest problem faced by Londoners? Rather than try to tackle London's pollution, drugs, low-level crime, anti-social behaviour, guns or even some of the shocking deprivation, they're spending time, money and effort on trying to ban plastic bags.

As for the Britney hemp catsuit - do you think she could try it? Just for the sake of a scientific comparison.

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Guy
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Another Tax on the Masses

Here in Glasgow we already have the enviromental police, who will quite happily fine you for dropping anything larger than biscuit crumb within the city limits. So lets see, what do they do, ask you to pick it up...No, ask you to pick up 10 other bits of litter (it would get the streets tidier)...No, give you a £50 fine that goes straight into the council coffers.....thats right, the one option that does absolutely nothing about the environment, but brings in more money for the council...speed cameras for pedestrians anyone

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Unhappy

Why ban the consumer?

Just stop the shops giving OUT platic bags... no need for patrolling police, no need to penalise people who have collected years supplies of plastic bags..

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Breakfast:

["It's alright, the ban is on one-use throwaway bags. If you're using a plastic bag to carry your gym kit ( or anything else other than carrying your shopping home in the first place ) it's on it's second use at least and is thus an exemplary case of recycling in action."]

But you wouldn't be able to carry your shopping home in the original bag in the first place...

A 5p levy would be easier surely, then you could still buy a bag if you haven't got your own - as at Lidl etc. Hardly see anyone using a plastic bag there.

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Happy

Democracy in action...

...or not. As a London resident who'd never heard of the "London Councils" group, let alone their plastic bag consultation, until the results were published, I wonder how many people (besides the handful who bothered to respond) actually knew the questions were being asked. And although I'm no statistician, it seems slightly suspect to extrapolate a 90% approval across all of London for the proposals, when only 0.02ish% of the population responded at all...

I have to wonder, given the effectively non-existent level of response from Londoners in general, just how and where the consultation had been announced - the apparently overwhelming support makes me think there may have been an element of selection bias, because I can't believe the result would have been so strongly in favour if the question had been asked of, and answered by, a larger group of randomly chosen Londoners. I also have to wonder just how many other "public" consultations take place with similarly low levels of awareness/response.

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Gold badge
Unhappy

New job?

So the Police are now to become mere bagmen for the Stalinist government?

Oh, wait a minute, that should read: "So, the Police are to extend their remit as mere bagmen for the Stalinist Government?"

Of course, if the supermarkets would sell a genuinely robust, reusable bag, rather than a tarted-up "bag for life" throwaway that you have to go through the rigmarole of getting replaced every time it splits or the handles come off (in the car park, in the peeing rain, while full of breakables seems the rule here), people might just use them.

Works on the continent. No legislation or Stalinist bully-boys in sight. 80p gets you a vast, resusable shopping bag that'll survive nuclear warfare. People use 'em because it's *easier* to move three big robust bags from your car to your kitchen than umpteen little crap ones on the verge of failure. Of course, if they were to do this in the UK, there'd have to be some kind of draconian restriction on owning more than three or something. Gotta keep the legislators busy.

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Alert

RE: Colin Millar

I agree their stats are rediculous. 1752 peple do not represent the views of Londoners in any way shape or form. Whats the betting they did this "public consultation" in a popular tourist area where the people who took part dont even live in London. This is why I rarely watch the news or read a paper Its all propagander to make the government look good.

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Silver badge

so little plastic it's trivial

Right, here's an experiment.

Take 10 plastic carrier bags and weigh them. I did this with a sample of Sainbury's finest and they are just less than 10grams each. For the sake of argument, say that plastics manufacture uses as much oil (energy) to make as it uses in raw materials, you still get 50 bags per kilo, or 40 bags per litre.

Question: how far does the average car travel on 1litre of petrol? Answer is about 10km (6 miles). So 40 carrier bags is the oil equivalent to driving 10km, or about 250 metres per bag. (Probably much lass, as petrol manufacture is nothing like 100% efficient, and the carrier bags are 33% recycled amterial, too)

I really can't be bothered to worry about that. I use more oil driving around the supermarket car-park than I consume in carrier bags.

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Gates Halo

What about the latex gloves and body cavity searches?

I think we need to think the customs angle through. I'm all for the checks at customs but what about the obvious group who will try to smuggle bags in INTERNALLY. We will need customs officers to do internal examinations, i.e. the infamous body cavity searches. For these, they currently use disposable latex gloves. Whoops! We can't use disposable Latex gloves as they aren't biodegradable! So, there are two options: no gloves and rough hands (lets hope they wash them) or they just reuse the latex gloves......nice!

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Black Helicopters

Think about the Armed Respones Units

If you can get shot in the back of the head for carrying a table leg wrapped in a plastic bag just think what they would do to you for a weeks shopping.

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I've got a job lot

of plastic bags if anyone wants them, most came from budgens but there are a few shiny ones in there.

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This post has been deleted by its author

The gnat's arse

I put my plastic bags to good use - as rubbish bags. I thought I was being good. If the supply dries up, I shall have to buy... plastic rubbish bags. Doubtless hippies will soon be sporting hemp bags which they made themselves after stripping off and drying the good bits, but that just doesn't excite any more.

Cui bono? It seems like another nu labour jobs-for-the-boys-(and-girls) scheme, c/w designed-in job satisfaction - save the planet while gaining self-esteem poncing around imitating real dictators. Even politcal authoritarianism can be totally and irredeemably democratised if you try hard enough, it would seem.

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Irish Tax on Plastic Bags

IMO the tax on plastic bags, had no ill effects what so ever. Before the tax had been introduced alot on the major chains had begun selling reused bags, which are much stronger than the one use bags and your less like to lose your shopping all over the ground.

I personanly am not old enough to remember but from the stories I have been told, there is nothing new about using resusable bags. People got along before with out plastic bags,using reusables bags or getting paper bags.

I usually have a backback with me and a reusuable bag with me.

I know Ireland is not much of a test case because of the population to even london, but if something like this is to be introduced it would seem easier for a nation wide ban or tax to be enforced.

Just a world from somebody from an almost free plastic bag zone.

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Anonymous Coward

Bin bags...

..are plastic, is there a viable alternative?

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Silver badge

Oh, come on

@Pete: It's not just about the oil that is consumed in the manufacture of plastic carrier bags. It's about the bags themselves. They are terrible. They seem almost designed to fail (well, they wouldn't be able to force you to get new ones if they didn't), they can be dangerous to wildlife, and the sight of discarded ones blowing about on hedges is just plain awful.

Be honest, we'd all be better off without the blasted things.

And never mind a namby-pamby 5p charge, which people will just pay and then moan about. I'd like to go further and charge *more* for single-use plastic bags, even ones made out of recycled materials, than durable canvas ones (which might well end up outlasting the supermarket that sold them).

(As a dog owner, I'm aware that plastic bags do have another use ..... so I ought not to wind up this comment without proposing a solution. I would like to see flushable bags introduced, which break apart with normal sewage processing, for that purpose. Of course, that would also mean a need to introduce more [any?] toilet facilities in parks &c.; which would mean admitting to chronic underinvestment and also cut off a lucrative revenue source, i.e. anybody caught short late at night.)

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Anonymous Coward

Pubic [sic] consultation.

"...just how many other "public" consultations take place with similarly low levels of awareness/response..."

And just how many public reactions with larger turnouts of the constituency and have been ignored because it doesn't suit the particular public body involved.

Consultation, my crotch.

It's just bloody typical of the bankrupt ethics of Government in this country that they continue to attempt to pervert the results of "consultations" to fit their own complacent, condescending, self-serving point of view even though they know we're on to them.

And there's nothing we can do, because the alternatives are as bad as each other. Still, as the oil runs out and the plod all retire and the markets in imaginary money that sustain this country collapse in a welter of greed and recrimination, perhaps there will be opportunity to raise something better out of the ashes.

But it'll probably speak Chinese. Or maybe Hindi, if the Subcontinental-heritage ties are the route by which inward investment returns.

I'm off to find a nice smallholding and dig a bunker.

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Alert

In South Africa

Well in South Africa all that they did, was charge people for each and every plastic bag. Sure in the beginning people complained but many got used to it.. I presume less people are using plastic bags or just continue to use the same ones

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Anonymous Coward

Calm down!

The point here presumably is to ban retailers from dishing out the bags. If people were wandering around carrying one-time plastic bags then someone would have to investigate to see which shops were breaking the ban.

I don't think even this Government would criminalise possession of a plastic shopping bag? Surely not?

The Irish example suggests a 5p plastic bag levy would do the trick. But if the Treasury won't allow this, any other suggestions as to what can be done about this problem? Green Clubcard points just won't cut it because people are fundamentally lazy.

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Thumb Up

Copying Rwanda?

I'm currently living in Rwanda and it is against the law to bring plastic bags into the COUNTRY let alone the capital. It works well. Everyone uses paper bags, and they also re-use them as they are charged for too. It's brilliant for minimising waste.

Additionally, bottles are recycled too. If you want to buy a crate of beer you need to bring an empty crate of bottles in exchange. You can buy bottles without an empty to exchange but it's more expensive and some places don't allow it.

Our household waste is minimal without even thinking about it. It's all good.

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Anonymous Coward

If...

They can't stop people driving while making calls on their mobile phones, how are they going to police this one?

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Silver badge

a levy is invisible

let's face it, when you go to a supermarket checkout no-one looks at the till receipt before paying. The person on the till says "that'll be £X" and you just hand over your card. If they had added on 50p for 10*plastic bags, nobody would notice (and probably wouldn't care) as this would only be a small proportion of the bill. I normally reckon on getting *at least* 10 quid's worth of shopping in each bag, so another 5p is 0.5% on each bag-worth

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Silver badge

a levy is invisible ... part 2 (a solution)

Thinking about it a bit more, the solution that comes to mind is to say to the shops "you will be charged 1p for every bag you gave away last year" So supermarket X gave away 500million bags - that's £5 million PLEASE!!!

Then initiate a programme like NewYork (used to?) have whereby unemployed people who hand in bags get the 1p back - to pay for a meal, or just supplement their govt. handouts (or maybe just buy some drugs :-( )

Result: the bags are collected "free" and hopefully some social benefits, too.

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Two week bin collection

On watchdog a couple of nights ago there was some dude sticking up for the many councils decisions to have a fortnightly collection.

On the complaint of maggots etc, if memory serves me correctly, he said that we're supposed to put food into plastic bags before we put it into the wheelie bins.

I presume fortnightly collections don't exist in London?

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Tim

Not really thought through at all

So they want to stop use of all plastic bags inside the M25. Easy enough, just stop retailers from providing them and the problem will go away over night.

Paper bags will then be used, which will need to cut down more trees for the materials, so CO2 levels absorbed by trees will decrease, while the oil that was locked away in the ground after the bags were thrown away gets burned as fuel. Increasing the overall levels of CO2.

I'm pretty sure this is a bad move. Nobody likes litter but it's a consequence of people not bringing bags with them. Thats what should be addressed. Someone could make a fortune selling a fold-away "bag/box" which sits in the car boot and the trolley which the supermarkets could sell instead of bags for life. Most people take their car with them shopping, so if you've a couple in the boot then you won't need carriers. Pretty much the same as just buying a bag especially for it, but this will be called the "food helper" or something classy. And then people won't forget to put it back in their car.

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Coat

Reworded to

We could only brow beat 90% of environmental freaks to agree it was a problem and even then with a sledge hammer swinging at their face we could only get 60% to call for a ban.

That is the only way they could have got those figures cos over 90% of the people I know would never have voted like that.

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Black Helicopters

Sign me up

In my city 7 kids were shot dead in gang cross fire in the same month our government decided to release army surplus weaponry to unprotected *school* armories in poor communities. Oh of course they had the intention of allowing disadvantaged youths the opportunity to engage in the sport of target shooting but they ended up putting guns into the hands of criminals.

Many of our police stations have got contracts with security companies to provide armed response. You know the "press a panic button and guys with guns show up". This started after gangs started holding up cop shops and robbing them of their weapons and bullet proof vests.

So a city where it is an offense to carry a plastic bag sounds pretty safe and damned attractive to me. Come live in South Africa before you complain about the nanny state.

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Silver badge

@Andy

I made the decision to leave over 15 years ago. It was easy: the cost of buying a good pistol for the missus was about the same as airfares out of there.

And yes, you're right. It is nice to live in a place where changing letter box colours from red to blue is a major issue.

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Plastic bags are green (-ish)

A lot of twaddle is talked about plastic bags (which are almost universally made from polyethylene not PVC btw) being bad for the environment.

They are messy, sure, but non-biodegradable bags can in some ways be good for the environment, or are at least neutral.

Plastic bags are made from oil. The oil is taken out of the ground, where it is doing no harm and has successfully sequestered the carbon in it for millions of years. If the oil is made into non-biodegradable plastic bags and these are returned as landfill, little or no carbon dioxide is produced, and the carbon is returned to the ground,where it does no harm - in fact it may be doing good, as the presence of plastic sheet in landfill slows down the rate at which the rest of the landfill ferments.

Alternately, the oil will be burned in cars instead, and the carbon released.

As an aside, I don't know what idiot or spinmeister came up with the idea that biodegradable plastic bags are "greener" - they may lessen the mess from discarded bags, but they allow the carbon to be released into the atmosphere, increasing greenhouse gases.

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Go

Make use of the every increasing council tax..

..and issue each household with 2 free re-usable bags each which can be replaced (at a token cost) from the council.

Tax the hell out of the supermarkets with a 20p levy per bag.

Job done.

While we are at it, anyone else think that there is more excessive packaging than a carrier? take for instance anything you buy that comes in that annoying - you cannot open without industrial scissors - heat sealed packages? There is more waste there and don't even get me started on bloody leaflets in newspapers etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Polythene?

Plastic bags are made of polythene not PVC

Polythene is made from oil.

Polythene can be recycled and burned in an incinerator to make power.

Plastic bags are a more efficient use of oil than burning in cars.

Problem is that many bags are not recycled; as Bob Dylan has it " the answer is blowin in the wind".

Ergo: no more plastic bags.

I use recycled plastic bags to pick up dog s**t. What will I do in future?

Last thought: My Irish relative (who I will not name because he will realise who I am) insisted on saying he was going to use a polythenian bag. That was untiI I pointed out that this could be a Greek street walker.

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Go

Errmm - lots of hot air here I think

I don't have a car - never have, a life choice. I shop at Morrisions, Tesco, LIDL and ALDI. Basically because they are near to where I work or live. I shop using either a large rucksack, or a small rucksack.

What I see in the first two supermarkets who give away bags is this:

People shop by filling a basket or a trolley. They get to the checkout and pack everything into bags which they put back into the trolley. They go to their car and move the bags to the boot. They drive off. Then presumably when they get home they empty the bags and throw them/reuse them. So, the bags are used as a very small convenience in getting the shopping in and out of the car. That's it.

What I see in the other two supermarkets - who charge for carrier bags - is that when people get to the checkout they generally put the shopping back into the trolley, mostly buying bags for the frozen items. Presumably, for the sake of five pence, or so, people are quite happy to take a little longer to load/unload their car - or perhaps have the foresight to bring a box in the boot.

Bottom line: I can see the sense in making supermarkets charge for bags. It makes for a level playing field. They only give them away free because it is cheap for them to do so and is seen by customers as an advantage. Hell, I bet most people only pack into bags because they *are* getting something free. Even if they throw them away half an hour later.

Next: get them to cut down on the amount of bloody packaging they use. If they're selling loose apple then why the hell do they need the same ones packed up in five different ways as well?

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Better to ban plastic bottles?

I'd prefer to see a ban on bottles of water (and possibly the people who drink them too). I bet they waste more plastic than plastic bags. It would reduce the pollution involved in importing water from the other side of Europe too. We've got plenty of our own water for gawd's sake, just turn on a tap and wow, water appears!

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