Saving our planet; one bag at a time

July 26, 2004

Scotland will tax plastic bags

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:52 am

I just read an article by Jeremy Watson in the Scotland News that the Scots will soon be charging a 10 cent tax on disposable plastic bags.

Scotland uses about a billion bags a year totaling up to 6,500 tons of waste.

Most are buried in landfill sites, where they can take hundreds of years to degrade, but many litter urban areas, the countryside and the sea, where they can become a major hazard for wildlife. The stomachs of whales and seabirds washed up on Scottish shores have been found to be filled with plastic bag fragments, which may have contributed to their deaths.

The sums raised will be collected from shops by local council officers and the profits spent on environmental projects. In Ireland, where a similar bill has reduced plastic bag usage by 95% since being introduced in 2002, the levy has already raised £23m, says Jeremy.

Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle, who introduced the bill, says that the Irish levy had been “a huge success”, adding: “As well as reducing the number of plastic bags being thrown away, it has really increased awareness of recycling in general”

Councils in Scotland are backing a levy as it would save them millions of pounds in landfill charges, as well as providing cash for new environmental programmes.

Predictably, the British Plastics Federation, is carping about it, but Mike Pringle has the answer “Free plastic bags only became common in the 1970s. Before that our forebears managed very well without them.”

Reusable cloth bags are an attractive and affordable alternative, as can be seen at

The guys who oppose the taxation bill should read some of the stories on this weblog, including the one which tells you how plastic chemicals leaching into your food from packaging and doing a gender bender on newborn babies.

July 23, 2004

No wonder the Japanese succeed at everything

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:38 am

Clearly they are a more evolved society than most others. Elsewhere, governments are facing opposition from retailers when they propose a tax on plastic bags, but not in Japan.

Here, the Japan Chain Stores Association have themselves called for a law to enable stores to charge customers for plastic shopping bags.

The industry body said retailers have incurred growing costs for recycling plastic trays and other recyclable containers. It said if those costs continue to increase, some retailers might become unable to shoulder the burden and Japan’s “recycling system might collapse.”

What an admirable perspective. Smart guys, the Japanese. Look at how clean
Japan is.

Bring in a tax on plastic bags and usage does drop. It fell 95% in Ireland.

Getting used to carrying reusable cloth bags is obviously something humans can adapt to fairly quickly.

For those who forget to carry it or want the luxury of not needing to carry it, a small tax makes sense. Before plastic bags started getting distributed free after the 70s, we managed didn’t we?

Reusable cloth bags are attractive and affordable as you can see at

July 19, 2004

90% of Hong Kong people support plastic bag tax

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 2:44 am

The Green Students Council in Hong Kong conducted a survey outside 25 supermarkets and found that 90% of the respondents supported a tax on plastic bags.

Hong Kong consumers use 6.7 billion plastic bags a year, or 1,294 plastic bags per person.

Taiwan and Ireland have sharply reduced the use plastic bags by imposing levies three years ago. The Taiwanese, who used to use 909 bags per head, have reduced consumption by 80%.

Ireland’s consumers used one billion plastic bags annually, or 256 plastic bags a person, before a similar levy was introduced in March 2002. Since then Irish retailers have reported a 90 percent drop in the number of plastic bags used while the government raised 9.6 million euros (HK$94.57 million) in the first year of the levy.

Despite this, Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao said charging people HK$1 for each plastic bag is very complex and alternative proposals should be considered.

Sounds like the Indian government. Things that are simple for others become complex for us. But I’m surprised to hear this from Hong Kong.

July 5, 2004

What are we doing to our world?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:33 pm

I just read an article Rob Crilly and Emma Newlands wrote for The Herald in Scotland about a whale that was washed up on the Hebridean coast. Its stomach was filled with plastic bags.

More evidence that plastic bags are playing havoc with life as we know and love it. A recent survey found scraps of plastic inside 96% of seabirds tested.

Marine creatures mistake plastic bags for food such as jellyfish or squid.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of research at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It’s quite clear that plastic bags are a pollutant in their own right, and not only do they use a lot of resources in their production, but also because of the way they’re disposed of.

“The fact that a lot of marine life is being affected by plastic bags shows that we really need to levy some sort of plastic bag tax if we are to save resources and help the environment. The sooner this happens in Scotland the better.”

A plastic bag tax of about 15p introduced in Ireland in 2002 has cut their use by 90% and reduced litter.

Research revealed at the weekend also suggested that many seabirds were being turned into living dustbins.

The study by Dutch scientists of fulmars, gull-like seabirds which nest around Britain’s coast, showed that 367 of 382 birds studied had ingested plastic waste.

About a million birds and 100,000 mammals and turtles are estimated to become entangled in marine rubbish around the world each year.

Surface-feeding species of bird, such as albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and gulls, are the most susceptible to eating debris.

An autopsy on a Minke whale in France in April 2002 found just under 1lb of plastics in its stomach, including two English supermarket plastic bags.

A leatherback turtle washed ashore in Scotland in the 1990s showed that it appeared to have died from starvation caused by plastic and metal litter blocking its digestive tract.

What makes this most tragic is how easily avoidable this is. All we need to do is to carry cloth bags with us when we go shopping (leave a few in the car, have a depository at all our local shops, there are many solutions).

Most humans have no concept of the scale of this problem. Now that you’ve read this, I hope you will stop using plastic bags from this moment. If you’d like to take a little initiative to encourage your friends to also do so, write to me, I have a method to suggest.

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