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Welsh Assembly urged to abandon bag charge

The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) has called on the Welsh Assembly to abandon its plans to introduce a bag levy next month.

The CBC says that the Welsh authorities should take heed of the findings of the Environment Agency, whose report on carrier bags, published in February, found that cotton bags were no greener than plastic ones.

Wales will charge 5p for carrier bags from 1 October, with money from the charge being passed on to environmental charities rather than going into the government’s coffers.

Paul Marmot, CBC Chairman, said, “The Welsh tax flies in the face of science. Now is the time for Wales to catch up with scientific consensus instead of blindly following the greenwash. The fact is that the carbon impact of a carrier bag is so small as to barely register when measured against the overall impact of households.” He continued, “The average daily car usage of 30 miles – less than a single trip from Cardiff to Swansea – has an equivalent CO2 impact to the number of carrier bags used by someone from Wales every seven years.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government commented, “We realise the charge will not solve all our environmental problems but it does deliver an important message about the need for us all to lead much more sustainable lives and take better care of the world’s resources. Recent figures demonstrate that the forthcoming charge is helping to drive down carrier bag use in Wales as, while carrier bag use in other parts of the UK is on the increase, here in Wales it is continuing to fall. This is because people here know about the charge and are actively preparing for it.”

Environment and Sustainable Development Minister, John Griffiths, said, “I am proud that we in Wales are taking the lead in the UK in introducing a charge. This will ensure that people are thinking, and talking, about the problem of single use carrier bags. They are a waste of resources, a problem as litter and a symbol of the throwaway society.”

In response, Mr Marmot said, “We appeal to the minister to make a commitment to a full and open review of this policy as soon after implementation as possible and before too much damage is done in misleading consumers about the real credentials of lightweight plastic bags.”

He added, “This is an unnecessary tax on the Welsh people. It is not the time to penalise consumers when they can least afford it. Government research shows that 76% of households put their free issue carrier bags to secondary uses such as bin liners and, once deprived of this valuable resource, will end up paying for heavier duty bin liners with no net environmental gain.”

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