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Bag tax proposals welcomed by Greens - COMMENT UPDATE

Proposals for a 10p tax on plastic bags in the capital from London Councils have been welcomed by London Assembly Green Party member Darren Johnson but he said alternative to the bags must be considered. London Councils has called on the Government to introduce the tax or even ban plastic bags altogether. The London Local Authorities Bill, which includes the tax proposals, is due to go to Parliament in November. Johnson has asked Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to back the proposal by working with retailers to provide alternative bags made from recycled or degradable materials. He hopes that such bags will be widely available by the time the tax is introduced. Johnson said: When you consider that a non-biodegradable bag can take up to a 1000 years to decay into a toxic sludge and can end up as rubbish floating in the sea, not addressing the issue of plastic bags shows incredible environmental complacency. Everybody has a responsibility for reducing the number of plastic bags we use everyday. The Government must approve a 10p tax on plastic bags in London, retailers must provide alternatives to plastic, and shoppers should either reuse their own plastic bags or use long-life cloth bags. London Councils Chairman councillor Merrick Cockell said: We are pleased that the Government is proposing to work with retailers to reduce plastic bag usage by 25% by 2008, but we think we need to take a bolder approach. What we are proposing may sound extreme but so too is the number of plastic bags that currently have to be sent to landfill because we cant recycle them. "Ultimately the decision not to pick up a plastic bag lies with the consumer we will do anything we can do to encourage them to make the right choice. People need to realise that the free plastic bag they pick up in the supermarket is not really free at all certainly not in its cost to the environment. Introducing a levy on plastic bags should help consumers think twice before picking them up in future. Comment: I'm currently coordinating the recycling program for the Wilkinsons group of companys, we are looking at ways to reduce the number of bags being used within our retail outlets by various means, Including giving customers a 1p refund on each bag they reuse. We recently gave away in excess of 24,000 fabric bags to all our team members and sold at less than cost price to our customers. Any move to FORCE retails not only to look for alternative but also to use them has got to be a positive to the industry and the recycling message. The Wilkinsons family have put out the War on Waste message to us all and I am encouraged by the support they have given me in there wish to look at all alternatives to current practices. Posted by Dino 26 July 2007

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