Plastic bags not the great green threat, says BRC
By Anthony Clark
Posted 6 July 2012
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has robustly defended the use of plastic carrier bags in light of the latest Wrap figures that show 8 billion ‘thin-gauge’ bags were issued in the UK in 2011, up 5% on 2010.
When broken down the figures revealed a 22% fall in Wales, a 7.5% rise in England, an 8.1% rise in Northern Ireland and no significant change in Scotland over the same period.
However, the BRC’s head of environment, Bob Gordon, pointed out that "plastic bags account for a fraction of one percent of household waste and the amount of new plastic being used in today's bags is half what it was in 2006. They have a symbolic status but their impact on the environment is much smaller than other things which retailers are turning their firepower on.
Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat MP and a critic of 'over-packaging', said she was disappointed with the rise. "It's a shame to see these figures. I understand the environmental argument [but] I had hoped the industry would have taken on board the need for fewer bags." Swinson said the goal had to be "more re-use, regardless of the material used".
"Let's not forget, the number of carrier bags used in 2011 is still a third lower than in 2006,” added Gordon. “The majority of shoppers do their best to reuse bags and take as few new bags as possible. However, shopping trends are changing and it's clear many customers appreciate the bags they're offered.
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