Today is Plastic Bag Tax Day across England, when stores with sufficient employees will have to charge at least 5p for every single-use plastic bag that shoppers ask for.
Our President, Bill Scott, has argued that the day should be known as Nick Clegg Day from now on, to mark this shift, although he acknowledges that not everyone will likely see the move as entirely positive. There are certainly those who never saw such bags as single-use, and who employed them, for example, to enclose waste before (properly, of course) disposing of it. What will they do now? Well, they might well buy plastic bags to replace the ones that no longer come to them via the shops. We shall see.
Keep Britain Tidy has welcomed what it sees as the biggest step forward against littering in England in ten years as such plastic bags are one of the most highly visible forms of litter with over eight billion bags used (and then mis-used) by shoppers every year. However, they constitute only a small fraction of the litter we actually see.
In Wales, where a bag charge has been in place since 2011, it is said that there has been a reduction in bag use of around 70%, although it’s not clear whether the amount of litter has dropped by a significant amount.
The problem with all this, we think, is that litter is caused by people, not bags, and so it must be an open question whether this will be enough to make (some) people break the habit of a lifetime. Hope springs eternal.