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Plastic bag ban should go national, says London Assembly

In an effort to make the public aware of environmental problems the Government should impose a nationwide ban on plastic bags, according to a London Assembly official. London Assembly chair of the environment committee Darren Johnson has called for a national rather than a regional ban following the recent London Council proposal to ban retailers from giving out plastic bags in the capital. Speaking exclusively to MRW he said: I am pleased legislation is being put forward to ban plastic shopping bags but a national scheme would be preferable than a regional scheme not just one for London. The proposed decision gives more opportunity for Government to introduce national measures. We visited Dublin last week just to see what work they were doing and they have been remarkably successful in reducing the number of plastic bags given out to the public. Standing on the street corners of Dublin you will be hard pushed to see a single carrier bag people use jute or bags for life now." Johnsons comments follow a recent Assembly environment committee meeting that brought the likes of Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys and Waste Watch together to examine how best to reduce the number of plastic bag distribution. While there was a broad consensus among supermarkets to reduce consumption of carrier bags, it was suggested that a regional ban would be confusing to shoppers and place an unnecessary administrative burden on small retailers who have outlets in different regions. London Councils will be able to deposit a private Bill in Parliament at the end of this month. While the purpose of the Bill will be to encourage shops to provide more environmentally friendly alternatives, they will still be able to sell plastic bags. Johnson added: A ban on free shopping bags could allow retailers to charge as little as one pence per bag. Any legislation needs to impose a minimum price to ensure that it has the desired effect. A one penny charge will not change peoples behaviour the charge needs to make people think twice. My hope is that it makes people aware of environmental problems and makes them think sensibly about waste, it has a great potential to do that. The Assemblys next steps is to gather more evidence, make recommendations to Parliament and provide pointers to the London Councils as it drafts the plastic bag Bill.

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