Bin the bags everybody

Prompted by the CPRE, I have written to John Hayes asking for his support to address the plastic bag blight our public spaces suffers.

John Hayes MP
South Holland and The Deepings House of Commons
London SW1A0AA

I am writing to ask for your support on the important issue of single-use carrier bags.

Last year was the second in a row to see an increase in the use of single-use bags. In 2011 a total of eight billion ‘thin-gauge’ bags were issued throughout the UK, which represents a 5.4% increase compared with 2010 (7.8 billion). I am very concerned that all of the net growth occurred in England, particularly as England remains the sole home nation not to have a single-use bag levy in place or to be actively seeking to introduce one.

Single-use plastic bags are wasteful of resources and all too often end up as litter, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, whether on land or at sea; strewn in our towns, countryside or beaches they are an eyesore, and often a hazard to wildlife.

In 2011, when commenting on 2010 plastic bag use, the Prime Minister said: “Progress overall went backwards last year, and that is unacceptable. Retailers need to do better. I want to see significant falls again. I know that retailers want to do better too but if they don’t I will be asking them to explain why not.”

Locally, I have tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade our local Co-op shop to stop giving out plastic bags as a matter of course, as these have proven to be one of the most significant and obvious causes of local littering. A legally enforced charge, would be a huge step to achieving my ambition for our community.

In October 2011, Wales introduced a levy of 5p per plastic bag. Since then retailers have reported a drop in plastic bag usage of between 70-96%, while Welsh public support for the levy grew to 70%. When Ireland introduced a plastic bag levy in 2002, plastic bag use fell by 90%, as did the amount of litter.

I strongly support the Break the Bag Habit campaign run by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and Surfers Against Sewage, which calls on the Government to reduce litter and waste by requiring retailers to introduce a levy on all new single-use bags.

Please raise my concerns with the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman MP, and urge her to introduce a levy on single-use carrier bags in line with the successful actions being taken in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, so that England is not left behind.

Yours sincerely