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While I’m a big fan of us all working together for the good of mankind and our wonderful planet, the wastefulness of the EU and the idiotic extravagances of those ‘in charge’ incense me… So while I won’t say “all is forgiven”, I congratulate MEPs that voted in favour of targets which will force us to halve our use of lightweight, one-use plastic carrier bags by 2017 and to cut it by 80% by 2019.
Research shows that these bags are kept for an average of 20 minutes but take 1,000 years to degrade. Worryingly, each of us uses an average of 200 bags every year - which represents one bag a day for each household… Well you can remove my household from the equation as for years I’ve had a car bootful of bags that I take shopping with me and use until they fall apart. I must admit that they’ve led to rows and that my refusal to embrace online shopping “because everything arrives in new bags” has made me particularly unpopular!
Escaped plastic bags blight our landscape and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Every year eight billion end up in rivers and lakes, while three-quarters of seabirds and one third of fish in the English Channel have been found to be contaminated by plastic waste - much of it from bags. In the North Sea, the stomachs of 94% of birds contain plastic, while bags accounted for 73% of the plastic waste collected by trawlers along the coast of Tuscany. It’s clear that something has to be done but why on earth do we need to wait so long to take action?
We will be allowed to decide ourselves how to meet the target – perhaps shops will have to charge for a bag or face a tax. There is also talk of a complete ban (good news for Italy, perhaps - currently facing legal action from the EC, after launching a ban in 2011). Countries that have already introduced levies have enjoyed huge success and this has no doubt encouraged Scotland to follow suit this coming October and the UK to introduce a five pence charge from 2015.
Our image shows an art work outside the EC, made entirely of plastic trash, designed to raise awareness about resource efficiency. Now I wonder how much that cost us…
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20th March 2014