British Chancellor Alistair Darling announced yesterday plans to charge for one time use plastic shopping bags. "I am convinced that we can eliminate single-use disposable bags altogether” he stated.
"Given the damage that single-use carrier bags inflict on the environment, we want to be able to take action."The money raised by a plastic bag levy under powers provided by Climate Change Bill legislation would go to environmental charities.
Mr Darling predicted that, based on the example of other countries, this could reduce plastic bag use by 90%, with around 12 billion fewer bags in circulation.
Around 13 billion plastic bags are given out free to UK shoppers every year and are said to take 1000 years to decay.
Yesterday's announcement follows a newspaper campaign to ban plastic bags which has been endorsed by the Prime Minister.
Last year Plastic bags were banned in San Fransiscio
Fifty years ago, plastic bags -- starting first with the sandwich bag -- were seen in the United States as a more sanitary and environmentally friendly alternative to the deforesting paper bag. Now an estimated 180 million plastic bags are distributed to shoppers each year in San Francisco. Made of filmy plastic, they are hard to recycle and easily blow into trees and waterways, where they are blamed for killing marine life. They also occupy much-needed landfill space.
Two years ago, San Francisco officials considered imposing a 17-cent tax on petroleum-based plastic bags before reaching a deal with the California Grocers Association. The agreement called for large supermarkets to reduce by 10 million the number of bags given to shoppers in 2006. The grocers association said it cut back by 7.6 million, but city officials called that figure unreliable and unverifiable because of poor data supplied by markets.
From Australia to the U.K., and all across the U.S., politicians and corporations are pondering banning or taxing plastic bags.
A hefty surcharge that began in 2003 in Ireland has spurred the public there to spurn plastic bags almost completely in favor of reusable cloth totes
Plastic sacks are also taxed in Italy and Belgium. Grocery shoppers must pay for the bags in Switzerland, Germany, and Holland. Spain, Norway, and now the U.K. are considering a ban or tax as well.