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Paterson takes note of plastics bag ‘reusability’

Environment secretary Owen Paterson has told the British Plastics Federation (BPF) that Defra will consider evidence on the reuse of plastics bags ahead of the introduction of a levy on carriers.

Owen Paterson

On 8 January, Paterson (left) included this remark in correspondence with the BPF director general Peter Davis.

This was in response to a letter that Davis had addressed to him in December to highlight the BPF’s concerns about the 5p charge on plastics bags set to be introduced in England in 2015.

Davis said that Defra’s consultation documents on the matter suggested that plastics bags are used only once. The department often refers to them as “single-use” bags.

Davis cited a German study, to be published in late January, indicating that 72% of plastics bags are used more than once, and that 85% of people use them more than three times on average.

Paterson thanked Davis for bringing the upcoming German research to Defra’s attention and said: “We will be carrying out a full impact assessment of the costs and benefits of the charge in due course and the reuse of plastic bags will be one of the factors considered within that work.”

In its submission to Defra, the BPF also expressed strong disagreement on an exemption for biodegradable bags, piling up discontent from the plastics recycling sector.

Paterson reiterated that Defra will look at the opportunities for developing “more sustainable” biodegradable bags and separation techniques.

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