The UK industry which supplies all types of carrier bags has hit back at a new campaign called “Break the Bag Habit” which, it says, repeats unfounded ‘greenwash’ with the cynical aim of justifying a bag tax which would generate funds to fill a hole in charity income left by reduced Government grants and falling public donations.
The new campaign by Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and the Council for the Protection of Rural England is “yet another attempt to override science by repeating spin which flies in the face of Environment Agency evidence” says industry – which claims that the current voluntary agreement has resulted in 51 per cent less virgin plastic in carrier bags and 65 per cent less carbon impacts.
Launching its own vigorous response, the trade associations representing carrier bags and the wider plastics and flexible packaging industry have written to all UK MPs and major UK retailers pointing out the flaws in the latest campaign and urging them to stick to the voluntary code of practice.
“The rigorous Environment Agency Life Cycle Analysis (SC 030148) clearly demonstrates that alternatives to the lightweight plastic bag require far more of the earth’s precious resources to produce and have far higher impacts across a life cycle.
“We believe this new campaign is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts contained in this report and by targeting carrier bags diverts attention and resources from the macro- environmental issues we face” says the letter from the Carrier Bag Consortium and the Packaging and Films Association.
“We are particularly surprised at the about turn from Keep Britain Tidy whose statistical surveys have constantly reinforced the insignificant impacts of carrier bags on the environment,” said Barry Turner PAFA CEO.
“Why is Keep Britain Tidy targeting carrier bags when surveys show they represent just 0.03 per cent of littered items in our environment?” (Keep Britain Tidy for Incpen as part of the Local Environmental Quality Survey for England (2008-9).
Paul Marmot, Chairman of CBC, joined in condemning the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ campaign. “Good environmental practice is about reducing impacts, reusing resources and recycling at the end of life.
“The plastic carrier bag offers all of these routes to becoming the most environmentally acceptable solution for carrying goods home because it has the lowest impacts in production and transportation, is re-used by around 80% of households (DEFRA/WRAP/IPSOS/MORI 2007 Studies) and can easily be recycled using more than 5,000 collection points at our supermarkets” he said.