Time to ban or charge for plastic bags, say green campaigners

Plastic bags

Plastic bags

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A 5p charge for carrier bags in shops is to be introduced in the UK, which is expected to cut their use by at least three quarters.

The levy will apply to supermarkets and larger stores and is to be implemented by next October.

More than eight billion disposable bags are used in England each year, which equates to 130 per person.

Marks and Spencer here already charges 5p for a large carrier bag. So should the Isle of Man follow suit?

Cat Turner from Isle of Man Friends of the Earth said: ‘Friends of the Earth IoM has long been calling for the “taxing” – or better yet banning – of plastic bags.

‘Other countries have done so very successfully, and whilst stores and some consumers might grumble initially, a ‘‘no plastic bag’’ regime seems to become the norm surprisingly quickly - in the same way that the ban on smoking cigarettes in pubs was initially regarded as a disaster for the pub industry, but now isn’t an issue at all.

‘It’s not, after all, so very hard to bring a couple of your own bags with you when you go out.

‘Biodegradeable plastic bags are often put forward as a reasonable alternative, but in fact the time-spans for their degradation are considerable – and that degradation’s usually far from complete (so a bag described as ‘‘biodegradeable’’ might in fact only degrade down to small, but not negligible, particles of plastic – which in the end form part of the plastic soup polluting so much of the world’s oceans).’

Muriel Garland, chair of Zero Waste Mann, also welcomed the move saying that it makes sense to reduce their use on financial and environmental grounds.

Ms Garland said: ‘We don’t know how many are imported to the Isle of Man every year but it make sense to reduce their use on financial and environmental grounds.

‘We promote re-usable bags. We sell them at the Green Centre and whenever we go to events like Tynwald Fair Day and the Royal Agricultural Show.

‘For the last three years we have run a very successful campaign with IoM Prison at Jurby.

‘We provide the material and two or three prisoners sew them into Morsbags which we then give away free.

‘So far we have produced 3,765 bags for distribution around the island.

‘We would welcome a levy on plastic bags here on the island. It it easy to find alternative ‘‘bags for life’’. You just need to remember not to leave them at home or in the car when you go to the shops.

‘On a personal note I am trying to avoid plastic bags for the whole of this year.

‘From January to June I have only been given two by a local supermarket but otherwise I am managing to do without them.’

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