The single use plastic bag, the bête noire of environmentalists, has recently become an almost daily topic in the mainstream media. This follows the introduction of a plastic bag tax in Ireland in 2002, the failed legislation to tax their use in Scotland in 2005 and more recent voluntary agreements with major retailers in the UK to reduce plastic bag consumption. As the UK government is reluctant to tax plastic bag consumption (DEFRA 2006), towns across the UK are attempting to go ‘Plastic Bag Free’ themselves. Modbury in Devon was the first to achieve this status in May 2007 (Hosking 2007).
Critics say that plastic bags are the ultimate symbol of our throwaway society and are a blot on the landscape; littering both the countryside and coastlines. Proponents call them “a hygienic, odourless, waterproof, robust and convenient way of carrying goods” (British Plastics Federation 2002). They also say that the alternatives are much worse environmentally.
As discussed during the A1 module, global problems such as peak-oil, climate change and environmental pollution will affect us all. Plastic bags use oil, a non-renewable resource and are used in their millions daily, contributing to these problems. I am going to investigate their production and consumption and compare the alternatives. I will assess if eliminating their use completely is achievable or even desirable.
You can read the rest of Plastic Bag Free Britain here.