Bad bag tax

August 15, 2012 1:13 PM

The English campaign for a plastic bag tax gets enthusiastic support from Bath MP Don Foster. ‘Our streets, landfills and coastlines are awash with plastic bags which are polluting our environment and killing our wildlife,’ he warns. ‘Evidence suggests that a small charge is easy to implement and delivers significant results.’

In a coordinated letter in the Bath Chronicle, attention is drawn to the Break the Bag Habit campaign, saying ‘we are the only country in the UK that does not require shops to charge for bags and isn’t actively considering a charge.’ Long may that resistance continue! In Wales, the introduction of such a levy has not been altogether successful.

Small shops and businesses have protested at the Welsh 5p per bag tax, saying it is an extra administrative and financial burden, just when they don’t need it. Many of them pay the tax themselves rather than pass it on to the customer. Businesses are fined £5,000 if they do not comply with the bag levy. Cardiff shops have also said it puts off tourists who are nonplussed by the bag charge.

In a recent TPA Action Day held in Cardiff, 150 local residents and shoppers signed our petition against the bag tax in just one hour. ‘No-one wants to see plastic bags littering the streets of Wales,’ said TPA Welsh Coordinator Lee Canning, ‘however this is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It adds an unacceptable burden on small businesses that are forced to comply with the regulation or risk a hefty fine.’

Insiders at the Treasury appear to baulk at the idea of a bag tax in England. ‘After granny taxes, pasties and fuel fiascos there doesn't seem to be the stomach for any cost-of-living consequentials,’ said one. ‘It looks dead in the water from here.’ But more recently the Environment Minister Lord Taylor declared he was still seriously considering the plastic bag levy. The recent statements in Bath’s local newspaper are just part of a coordinated national campaign by environmental pressure groups to push the government into raising the tax.

But not all supermarkets support the bag tax either. The environmentally friendly Co-operative Group has argued against it in the past, citing evidence that paper bags are more of a pollutant and environmental concern than plastic bags. The British government’s environment agency report of 2006 found that HDPE (high-density polyethylene, the typical lightweight plastic bags) are superior to paper because they require less energy and far less water to make and take up less space in landfill.

So an English bag tax may not be such a great Green idea after all and may have a negative impact on hard-pressed high street shops...The English campaign for a plastic bag tax gets enthusiastic support from Bath MP Don Foster. ‘Our streets, landfills and coastlines are awash with plastic bags which are polluting our environment and killing our wildlife,’ he warns. ‘Evidence suggests that a small charge is easy to implement and delivers significant results.’

In a coordinated letter in the Bath Chronicle, attention is drawn to the Break the Bag Habit campaign, saying ‘we are the only country in the UK that does not require shops to charge for bags and isn’t actively considering a charge.’ Long may that resistance continue! In Wales, the introduction of such a levy has not been altogether successful.

Small shops and businesses have protested at the Welsh 5p per bag tax, saying it is an extra administrative and financial burden, just when they don’t need it. Many of them pay the tax themselves rather than pass it on to the customer. Businesses are fined £5,000 if they do not comply with the bag levy. Cardiff shops have also said it puts off tourists who are nonplussed by the bag charge.

In a recent TPA Action Day held in Cardiff, 150 local residents and shoppers signed our petition against the bag tax in just one hour. ‘No-one wants to see plastic bags littering the streets of Wales,’ said TPA Welsh Coordinator Lee Canning, ‘however this is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It adds an unacceptable burden on small businesses that are forced to comply with the regulation or risk a hefty fine.’

Insiders at the Treasury appear to baulk at the idea of a bag tax in England. ‘After granny taxes, pasties and fuel fiascos there doesn't seem to be the stomach for any cost-of-living consequentials,’ said one. ‘It looks dead in the water from here.’ But more recently the Environment Minister Lord Taylor declared he was still seriously considering the plastic bag levy. The recent statements in Bath’s local newspaper are just part of a coordinated national campaign by environmental pressure groups to push the government into raising the tax.

But not all supermarkets support the bag tax either. The environmentally friendly Co-operative Group has argued against it in the past, citing evidence that paper bags are more of a pollutant and environmental concern than plastic bags. The British government’s environment agency report of 2006 found that HDPE (high-density polyethylene, the typical lightweight plastic bags) are superior to paper because they require less energy and far less water to make and take up less space in landfill.

So an English bag tax may not be such a great Green idea after all and may have a negative impact on hard-pressed high street shops...

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