Sorry if you’re here in my blog to read about disability and/or dogs then this post is not for you. This post is a personal rant about Scotland’s new law to pay a minimum of 5pence for a plastic carrier bag that came in to force a week ago today.
Now I would call myself an environmentalist – I recycle or re-use everything I can, I use environmentally friendly household cleaners, laundry detergents, hair products, dishwasher tablets etc and I also re-use these so called single use bags as carrier bags and eventually bin bags for my livingroom/bathroom bins, as do most people I know.
Now if this law was going to improve the environment I would be all for it but I don’t believe it will, I think it is just for shops and the government to make more ££££ out of us! As if it were truly for the environment they would stop making the plastic bags that put all the heavy pollution into the environment altogether and go back to the large brown paper bags that were used before. I have read about this new law on the governments website and 5p is the MINIMUM amount to be charged and this includes VAT, so shops can charge whatever they want!
In recent years, the quality of these plastic bags has went right down to the bare bone, making them as thin as possible, so that you have to use more. This is not helping the environment as they are in turn producing more to meet the needs of the shoppers with their bags bursting and these burst bags are the ones ending up in burns, hedgerows and littering our streets. I am not saying that before when the bags were thicker that they didn’t end up as litter but due to bags bursting I personally have seen an increase of them flying about in the wind, whilst out walking my dogs.
Even though they have made the carriers thinner, during the manufacturing process it still puts the same amount of chemicals in the air as it does to make the thicker ones we used to get, if not more due to having to produce more, as they keep bursting. And if this truly was to help save the environment, then why is it only Northern Ireland (since 2013), Wales and Scotland that have introduced this law and NOT England as we all are part of the UNITED kingdom and all have the same environment above us so why are we the only ones to protect it, why not England as well?
There are so many exemptions as well, so how is this charge helping the environment when it doesn’t cover all plastic bags, just ones of a certain size or thickness of plastic? so if any part of the bag is less than 49microns then it is classed as a single use bag, now how are you or I going to know this measurement to check?
“Alternatives to plastic bags such as paper bags can be equally or more damaging to the environment. For this reason there is no exemption for carrier bags on the basis of the material from which they are made” This quote was taken from here – http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/carrier-bag-levy.
This makes NO sense to me, plastic littering does not decompose whereas paper does. Paper will degrade back to the earth when we all know plastic doesn’t! Also taken from the same website is this –
“Retailers are responsible for setting the price of the bags they dispense to their customers and as such bags may be made available at a variety of prices.
However, only the proceeds of the 5p levy are payable to the Department of the Environment and the levy will only apply to bags with a retail price below 20p”
So really it is another way for shops to make money out of us, as if they’re mark up on prices wasn’t bad enough! Also this website says that this law does not come into force until the 19th January 2015 (date it actually came in was the 20th October 2014) and that ALL the monies earned from this will go towards environmental projects but yet the first website I read (http://carrierbagchargescotland.org.uk/includes/uploads/Retail_Guidance_Single_Use_Carrier_Bag_Charge_Scotland_Regulation.pdf) stipulates the following –
‘The Regulations do not impose any obligation on how the net proceeds of the charge should be used; the decision on how to use this money is one for individual businesses to make. The Scottish Government is encouraging retailers to donate the net proceeds of the charge to good causes in Scotland, particularly ones that benefit the environment and to publish information on donations.”
Both are government websites so the fact that they contradict each other should be of no surprise really!
To sum up we are all now buying thicker plastic reusable shopper bags so in the long run many people will be using less carrier bags, but then the people like me that do reuse them as bin liners will now have to buy bin liners, I also use them to pick up many dog poos at a time in my garden so now I am going to have to use more poo bags for the same amount of poop that I could lift with one carrier bag, so it is really a fallacy that we will be using less plastic it will just be different types of plastics we are using which will have no impact on saving the environment. Had there been some better options like paper bags I would be all for this change, and I also would not mind paying for a brown paper bag at least until they took over full production from plastic carriers. The littering of said carrier bags does really annoy me but no more so than seeing a shopping trolley dumped in the burn, sweetie papers on the pavements, cigarette butts outside pubs/shops, and if say someone is coming back from shopping and a bag bursts spilling the contents all over the pavement, are they going to bother picking up the burst bag, as it is not fit for the purpose it is intended but yet you have had to pay for it! The last online shop I did, they delivered the food in bags, putting a little as 1 item per bag, used 21 bags, when really the shop only required 10 bags maximum! I have bought myself some shopper bags so will not be paying 5p for a bag – I refuse, so will be buying bin liners from now on, what about you?
The full law can be read here –http://carrierbagchargescotland.org.uk/includes/uploads/Retail_Guidance_Single_Use_Carrier_Bag_Charge_Scotland_Regulation.pdf and this is where any info/ links have been taken from.