UK may join crack down on free plastic bags

Posted by Laura Grant on March 1, 2008
Posted in Green News

plastic-bag.jpgBritain looks like it’s about to join the list of country’s trying to restrict the use of plastic bags. The country’s prime minister wants retailers to start charging their customers for the plastic bags that they currently get for free in an attempt to cut back on the number of bags that end up in landfills or fouling up the environment. Britons use 13-million plastic bags a year, reports Reuters.

Australia wants to start phasing out the use of plastic bags in supermarkets by the end of this year and from June 1 shoppers in China will have to buy their bags. China also has banned the production of ultra-thin bags, and their use in supermarkets and shops will be forbidden from June 1. Reuters reports that up to 3 billion plastic bags a day are used in China. South Africa, Denmark, Germany and Ireland are among the countries where customers already have to pay for plastic bags.

The extent of the plastic problem was highlighted in a recent article in Britain’s Independent newspaper. Ninety percent of the rubbish floating in the oceans is believed to be plastic and the UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, the newspaper report said. Worse still, in the Pacific Ocean, there is a giant trash vortex, which has been described as “almost like a plastic soup”, that covers an area “maybe twice the size of continental United States”. Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” in the 1990s, has warned that unless people cut back on their use of disposable plastics, the plastic stew in the Pacific would double in size over the next decade.

Sources: Environment News Network and Independent
Picture: © Isabela Habur, iStockphoto.com

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