1. Plastic bags normally used by retailers are usually weak and are manufactured in vast quantities. We use over 8 billion a year in the UK and the manufacture of them is dangerous to the environment.
2. These plastic bags produce a large amount of waste which is hard to dispose of, dangerous to wildlife/the environment and very slow to decompose - usually ending up as tiny plastic pellets rather than complete decomposing (tiny plastic pellets are found in huge quantities on our beaches and are being consumed by wildlife and so entering the food chain).
3. Many bags currently classed as reusable (the ones which only cost a few pence) are still often weak and are not always suitable for re-using.
4. A similar levy, on which several of the ideas outline below are based, has been introduced in Ireland; it was responsible for a 90% decrease in non-reusable bags used and brought in 3.5 million Euros revenue in the first 5 months. In the UK, we should expect a similar percentage reduction and estimate that 80-120 million Euros shall be raised in the first year; it should be noted however that the scheme will not raise any additional money overall for the government as most of the money raised shall be automatically allocated to environmental projects.
a. On the Irish scheme
b. Also on the Irish scheme
c. A BBC article on plastic bags
6. Will this be passed onto the consumer?
The simple answer is... yes. As explained here
, the vast majority of alternative method would pass on to the consumer. It is also important to put this into perspective; the tax will raise about £100 million. In the meantime, VAT has been cut by £65 billion
over the past couple of months on TSR. So before anyone brings up those 'poor troubled consumers' again.... this is the rough equivalent of a 0.1159 percentage points increase in VAT (to 4 d.p.), at the same time as VAT has fallen by 13.5 percentage points
7. Paper Bags
This issue of paper bags was first mentioned here.
Although paper bags may seem more environmentally friendly then plastic bags, there are some problems with their decomposition underground (without oxygen) and other things. See some of the links for more information on the issue: this
8. Changes between second and third readings:
1. Added the bit about paper bags