Time to get drastic on plastic
Nine months after BBC Wales ran a competition asking people which policy they would most like to see implemented if they ran Wales, what has happened to the winner a ban on plastic bags?
The plastic bag issue just won’t go away. People either want to ban them, start charging for them or prefer for everything to be left as it is.
Over the past two weeks I’ve taken my camera to film in west, north and south east Wales and the evidence on plastic, not just plastic shopping bags, is quite damning.
Neil Evans is an energy officer for Carmarthenshire Council. So he’s environmentally aware, but it’s as a private individual that last year he petitioned the Welsh assembly to try to ban plastic bags altogether.
According to Neil Evans: “The most obvious argument to most people is the effect on our landscape, the effect on the countryside, and our streets.
“What’s far less obvious is the effect on marine wildlife. If you do a search on the internet and see some of those photographs, they’re pretty horrific and that’s the main reason why I want to ban them.”
It was a popular choice, as his call received a lot of support, and it was duly presented to the assembly.
Three committees later, and the sustainability committee is now chewing the fat on a potential ban.
But, can they be banned, and by Wales independently of the rest of Britain? How much would it cost? More importantly how would people react?
The committee is the third committee to look at the petition, and its chairman, Mick Bates, the AM for Montgomeryshire, wants to ban them.
“The petition that’s been pr ugg boots sale esented to the assembly is a great thing, and it’s very popular, and I want to do it now,” he said.
“I’m frustrated it hasn’t happened already, personally,” he added.
But he feels confident, and even pledges it will happen, despite the assembly’s lack of devolved powers in some areas.
“We don’t have the powers to ban or ra ugg boots sale ise a levy, and there may well be legislation coming through.
“I’m going to do this, it’s going to happen. and I think one of the big challenges is to get the major retailers to say yeah OK, we agree and lead,” he said.
The website of PAFA (the Packaging and Films Association) says it “represents the 2bn UK industry engaged in the developmen ugg boots sale t and manufacture of films and the conversion of lightweight flexible packaging and rigid sheet.”
One of its representatives told me: “We always support recycling and reusing plastic bags, and according to the UK government figures, households already re use up to 80% of them.”
Meanwhile back in the semi rural Gwendraeth Valley, Neil Evans to ugg boots sale ok me to a village where litter and not just plastic shopping bags is a major eyesore.
He feels worried that his petition is stalling, despite all the reports in national newspapers,”I’m getting a bit anxious.” he said. “It’s been a while now and another reason I wanted the assembly to look at this, is to put Wales on the map, to ban bags before the rest of the UK.”
During his budget speech the chancellor Alistair Darling said the government would legislate on plastic bags, if supermarkets and shops didn’t charge for the bags we mostly take for granted.
Some do already, and in the Irish Republic shops have been charging 15 cents a bag since 2002.
Following the chancellor’s comments on a possible charge levied on plastic bags, shoppers in Ammanford had firm views.
One said she was unsure of a ban: “I probably would buy bags even with a charge, it would depend on the circumstances, I’d rather have an option.”
Another said: “There should be a charge yes,”. and went on to say ” I should think there could be a ban, and yes I’d support that.”
While a third shopper disagreed with the government policy of encouraging shops to levy a charge on plastic bags: “I wouldn’t pay, I’d stop using them. When they first came out years ago, they were better than the brown paper bags, what are you going to do otherwise?”
With so many elements of plastic in daily use, a possible ban on plastic bags wouldn’t solve many environmental problems.