The Folly of the 5p bag
The Ecotards have achieved another pyrrhic victory with the 5p plastic shopping bag. It is a solution that does not solve the problem and yet again the public have to pay. They have persuaded our feeble minded government to impose a charge of 5p per plastic shopping bag – to save the seas? Certainly that is a very big problem but their solution is quite fatuous.
First it should be noted that the great majority of plastic in the sea and on UK shores is not from UK but of foreign origin.
Campaigners argue that the bags blight streets, spoil the countryside, and damage wildlife, seas and coastline. All absolutely true and they claim that charging the customer 5p per bag will almost eliminate their use and dumping by more than 50%. + £60m savings in litter clean-up costs. + £13m in carbon savings.
But will it achieve the desired result?
My weeks shopping in the 4 x 5p bags contained groceries in 12 other smaller but free plastic bags and plastic containers all of which will go into the bin. How this plan is going to make anything more than about 10% less bags and will only make the very slightest difference to the plastic bag problem in the environment. There will be almost as many bags drifting about the environment as before.
So what are the actual consequences of this plan.
It will cost the average shopper about £20 per year and have no noticeable effect on the environment. Not much money for an Ecotard but significant for a pensioner and if it is unnecessary or ineffectual why pay it?
What will happen to the £20.
The bags cost less than 0.5p each so who will get the 4.5p?
A slice could go to the government of about £unknown as yet /year as a covert tax on food. The politicised Charities are fighting over this money that should go to very local voluntary Charities
Of course, if a plastic bag is reused in the home then its carbon footprint per use decreases even further.
However the atmosphere is getting critically short of CO2. Increase it by 4 times to get something like twice the yield of wheat, rice etc per acre. That should solve much of the 3rd world food shortage. (see theeuroprobe.org 2015 – 116 P.Moore ex director of Greenpeace explains why CO2 is essential for life.)
It seems retailers could choose what to do with the proceeds of the charge. They can keep it to boost their profits or hopefully to donate it to good causes if they wish – but no doubt less their expenses which I expect could be about 5p per bag.
So if a retailer donates it to one of the favoured charities of their choice of which you disapprove that is your tough luck. Charity fund raisers are already fighting each other tooth and nail now for a cut of this loot.
The real solution is to use those free tough bags made of recycled paper, as they have been doing so in the USA for decades. These bags when used can be recycled with the newspapers at no cost to the customer.
Alternatively if the householder collects all the plastic bags and returns them in one of the 5p bags to the supermarket they can receive £1 per full bag. This I am sure will result in far greater recycling and the Supermarket can dispose of them in bulk. The Carrot is always mightier than the stick.
It is also reported that the scientists have discovered minute worms and organisms that can digest plastic bags.
Enter the mighty mealworm. This tiny worm, which is the larvae form of the darkling beetle, can subsist on a diet of Styrofoam and other forms of polystyrene producing quality compost.
The Ecotards should donate their time, funds and exerting their efforts to furthering this interesting development.
There is also a British Company that is now operating a plant that converts all plastic waste into fuel. Surely that should be exploited more.
Mick Greenhough © 30 November, 2015