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Retailers challenge Bill to ban plastic bags in London

Retailers are challenging the Bill that calls for a ban of plastic bags in London because they say it will not make any difference to the environment.

The British Retail Consortium (
BRC) and the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) are uniting to use Parliamentary procedure to petition against the London Local Authorities Bill, which is being put forward today (January 29 2008).

ACS and BRC say the bill is excessive and flies in the face of a national voluntary agreement retailers reached with the Government last year. Retailers stress that plastic bags make up only a fraction of 1% of waste going to landfill and claim that a total ban would make no environmental difference.

director of business environment Jane Milne said: This is a gesture to grab a headline. It will do almost nothing for the environment.

Carrier bags are not the great environmental evil. They represent a fraction of 1% of waste going to landfill. Even so retailers of all types are already well on the way to meeting a voluntary pledge to achieve a 25% reduction. Do councillors really believe Londoners want their money spent on a new army of bag-ban enforcers bursting into shops, demanding documents and searching for secret supplies of bags shopkeepers held for provision to customers?

Local councils should be supporting retailers work, for example on increasing recycling, not damaging customers ability to shop and retailers ability to trade.

However,  London Assembly chair of the environment committee Darren Johnson said: The decision by retailers groups to support the status quo is a step in the wrong direction.

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