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Brown backs plastic bag ban

Gordon Brown has backed the idea that plastic bags should be banned nationwide and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) would welcome a meeting with him to discuss the issue. The Prime Minister said that he would like to hold a meeting with supermarkets, the BRC and other groups immediately to assess how they could quickly eliminate the use of plastic bags. Speaking at a conference held by the WWF charity in London, Brown said that supermarkets had already promised to reduce the environmental impact of plastic bags by 25% over the next year. Brown said: I believe we can go further. Indeed, I am convinced that we can eliminate single-use disposable bags altogether in favour of long-lasting and more sustainable alternatives. A BRC spokesman told MRW: We are not opposed to a meeting. We welcome one. Gordon Brown acknowledged himself that retailers have entered an agreement to reduce the amount of packaging used in plastic bags by 25% in 2008. Retailers are delivering; some are rewarding customers with reward points for recycling their bags and some are holding free bag for life days. A total ban of bags is extreme. There are situations where it is important to have a plastic bag. For example, with unplanned visits to the shops you need a bag, especially if you have bought a suit or a dress that needs protecting. "Bags can also protect from crime especially with electronic retailers. They like to bag items that customers have purchased so that they can easily see if the customer has paid for the item and not stolen it. The announcement by Brown comes at a time when the London Councils are preparing to draft a Bill that would bring a plastic bag ban to London if passed through Parliament. London Assembly chair of environment committee Darren Johnson has called recently for the Government to ban plastic bags nationally. He said: Gordon Brown has obviously seen what a popular measure this could be. He will hopefully see that a national measure could be put through as a result of work being done in London. I am surprised that the Government has not introduced national legislation already. It has worked well in Ireland and proved a popular measure with consumers. Image: Gordon Brown, Crown Copyright

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