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Plastic bag industry calls on Welsh Government to drop carrier bag levy

Two plastic bag bodies have called on the Welsh Assembly Government to reconsider its forthcoming carrier bag levy, after a recent EA life cycle analysis “strongly demonstrates the environmental credentials of plastic carrier bags”.

In an open letter written to Welsh environment minister Jane Davidson, Packaging and Film Association (PAFA) chief executive Barry Turner and Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) chairman Paul Marmot called on the minister to drop the policy, which will introduce a five pence levy on every single use carrier bag shoppers require.

The letter said: “We believe that the report which has been published by the EA strongly demonstrates the environmental credentials of plastic carrier bags. This is especially true when one considers the secondary use that so called single use plastic carrier bags are put to by the majority of households.

“When this secondary use is taken into account this  would require the cotton bags, which are not subject to the levy, to be reused some 300 or more times in order to have a lower environmental impact. At present we have no evidence that this high level of reuse is being achieved, in fact quite the opposite.”

The letter called for a formal review of the policy by the environment committee and warned against ‘unfairly biased’ bag guidance in favour of reusable bags with a “worse environmental footprint than those made of plastic”.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said:  “The Environment Agency report actually shows that commonly-used plastic ‘bags for life’ only need to be used four times in order for them to have a lower carbon footprint than single-use carrier bags. This very much supports our work to encourage Welsh shoppers to reuse their bags.  

“The charge is not a tax. No money resulting from the charge will come back to government but will be being passed on to environmental or other projects. As a result of the charge, we expect to see a 90% reduction in the number of bags distributed in Wales, and based on these figures, expect retailers to pass on the best part of £3 million to environmental or other projects.”

The carrier bag levy will operate in Wales from 1 October 2011.

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