Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Are we finally ready to kill off the plastic bag?

This weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will announce that a 5p tax on supermarket plastic bags should come into play in England by the end of 2015, bringing us in line with Wales and Northern Ireland, who already have a charge in place, and Scotland, where it will be introduced this time next year.

Calls for plastic bag charges in England have been steadily increasing in recent months, and why not -  usage has dropped by up to 80% in Wales and Northern Ireland since charges were introduced. This can only mean good news for the environment.


The revenue from the tax will be used for environmental and charity initiatives and the move will be widely supported by the environmental and waste management sectors. However, let's not get carried away. Dealing with plastic bags has long been a tagline when the subject of 'environmental protection' is mentioned in political circles in the UK, but it's important not to see it as the be all and end all of our waste problem, as Friends of the Earth spokesperson Craig Bennett told the BBC: "This small step will do little to tackle the nation's huge waste mountain and can't disguise the government's woeful green record."

These are tough times, and tackling environmental problems through taxes picked up by consumers isn't ideal. However, it is having the desired effect in Wales and Northern Ireland, and there's no reason it can't work here. I think we should welcome this small charge, providing that any revenue goes towards supporting environmental projects, but at the same time remain aware that this isn't a get out of jail free card for policymakers- so much more action will be needed if the UK is to build a greener future.

EMERGE provides environmental education and advice on resource management, waste composition and sustainable procurement issues. Our business services include everything from recycling collections to confidential document shredding.  

We are now working in partnership with Cooler Projects to deliver carbon literacy training for businesses across Greater Manchester.  For more info see or speak to Liz Lauder on 0161 223 8200 to book your places. 

Visit our new pop-up shop in Manchester city centre! Promoting the 3Rs of waste reduction, reuse and recyling, we are selling goodies and local arts and crafts with a 'Made in Manchester' theme.  Find us at Brazennose House West, Brazennose St, M2 5AS. Opening hours are usually 12-5pm Wed-Sat but are subject to change. Please contact for more info.

1 comment:

  1. Reduce, reuse & Recycle, yes I love these 3 words.
    Our planet needs people to understand the importance of these phrases.