05 May 2009 03:05:10
Plastic bag charges leading to CO2 savings in UK
Schemes charging UK shoppers 5p for plastic bags are leading to significant reductions in the number of bags in circulation, new figures suggest.
High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) reported that it has cut the number of single-use carrier bags handed out at its tills from 460 million last year to less than 80 million - a reduction of almost 85 percent.
M&S is one of several retailers that pledged to reduce the environmental impact of plastic carrier bags by 25 percent in 2008.
Other stores taking action include Asda, the Co-operative Group, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Somerfield and Tesco.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimates that retail-led efforts will eventually bring about a reduction of five billion bags per year in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Such a fall in the number of plastic bags being manufactured would save 130,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, Defra claimed, equivalent to removing 41,000 cars from the road each year.
The National Trust has also seen a significant fall in the number of plastic bags going to landfill as the result of its own 5p charge, which was introduced in May of last year.
"We are really pleased at how quickly customers have reacted and adapted their shopping habits by investing in durable alternatives in which to carry their purchases," the trust's Stuart Richards commented.http://www.defra.gov.uk/ENVIRONMENT/localenv/litter/bags/