Still a problem
At least paper and cloth bags don't blow for miles, don't plug street drains as badly, and don't make me shoot up a fence post because I think someone's trying to climb into a field (waving in the wind.)
The bottom could be about to fall out of the government’s crusade against plastic bags, with claims that one of the key underpinnings of the campaign against them is based on nothing more than a typo. The Times says Australian researchers, commissioned to produce a report on the effect of plastic bags, misquoted a 1980s report …
I look forward to the Daily Mail running a front-page editorial admitting that "OWR CAMPANE TO SAVE TEH WURLD!!!! WE MAID GORDON BAN PLASTEK BAGGS!!!!!" is actually based on inaccurate information.
Waddya mean I might be waiting a while?
(you forgot one vital use for these - as a dog owner, plastic bags are a life-saver....!)
It's a bit of a no brainer that plastic bags are a waste of resources and one use plastic bags are the worst. Biodegradeable bags are just excusable, but how long do they take to degrade ?
Frankly the fewer bags used the better and I've no objection to the government making some extra cash out of idiots who wont take a canvas/cotton bag to the shops.
This is the first time that I have heard of plastic bags killing marine life (even if the article was wrong).
However, in Canada we are reducing our usage of plastic shopping bags because they take up too much space in our landfills and don't degrade in a reasonable period of time.
In my house we use about 12 cloth shopping bags for our groceries, and return other shops bags to them for disposal/recycling.
1.) find a report, no matter how obscure, that supports your pet theory
2.) don't validate it or weigh the balance of evidence - in case you get debunked
3.) send a press release to the media - the more hysterical the better
4.) form a lobby group from your equally credulous friends
5.) get a luvvy who knows nothing about science but looks good on TV to endorse your views
6.) use this endorsement as proof that you're right
7.) criticise your opponents as being in the pay of big business
8.) repeat steps 3 - 7 until your random opinions become accepted fact
9.) tell everyone that we're doomed unless we all give up whatever it was your pet theory requires
10.) get the government to slap a punitive tax on it
11.) (optional - points for style) get your new facts taught in schools
12.) find another random crusade. Start again at (1)
13.) wonder why no-one learns science at school any more
OK so that study turns out to be bollocks - but it doesn't mean plastic is completely harmless.
The effects on areas of African soil can be seen here:
Tenuous connection, but I wonder how many shrews/voles/children were really choked by the old-style coke can ring pulls. I was terribly disappointed when they changed the design, the old one could be removed and converted into a small metal ring spring firing mechanism. Thinking about it, maybe that's why they really changed.
Paris 'cos it wouldn't surprise me if she's half plastic.
..and even I know the myth of plastic bag pollution. Eye sore, yes; pain in the proverbial when they break 6ft from your front door exploding its contents right across the street, yes (and you just know it's the one with eggs in, don't you) - apocalyptic environment destroyer - no. You can recycle them at most superstores anyway.
I'm waiting for the terrorist angle, where plastic bags are used by terrorists so should be banned, or are deemed WMD's so the country/store of manufacture is invaded to ensure our liberty.
Paris 'cos her personality reminds me of one.
As usual the Politian’s react to what may bring votes – not reality. Too many people with no experience or education of a particular subject /issue have to much influence on Government policy.
Maybe if the government over the last 25 years had stopped the supermarkets building hyper markets outside of the towns we wouldn’t need to use the car so much or alternatively order the delivery of shopping from the supermarket via internet on a PC which is left switched on 24/7 ultimately saving much more oil than the Plastic Bag requires which after all is made from the residue of oil refining.
Well said. Very eloquently spoken. And a F*ck you to all the haters who seem to think that they have a right to judge! FFS, i wouldn't mind betting that all the people, that commented negatively, would give their eye teeth for the ability to provide for their family as this man can. All you have to do is concentrate and work hard. A concept lost on most of the inhabitants of this green and pleasant land!
Maybe I got this wrong, but I'm not sure that this was totally based on animals being killed by plastic bags.
All of the plastic bag replacements are being sold as green bags i.e. less damaging to the environment by using less plastics and putting less stuff into landfill when for the majority of people doing their weekly shop it is just as easy to reuse bags.
Now whilst the government policy may be based on this I am sure it is more heavily biased towards environmental impact.
Surely someone realised something was up with the report when they included birds as mammals!
Is this article a joke?
The "Daily Mail" Register is now suggested an anti-plastic bag campaign is worthless on the premise they don't harm marine life?
What about the fact they don't degrade very well and hence litter the country for years on end? What about the fact they require the use of oil when oil isn't in unlimited supply, is currently extremely expensive and hence when there are better alternatives available? What about the fact kids manage to suffocate themselves with them? There's so many varied reasons why plastic bags are simply a waste of resources and exist only because of sheer laziness and lack of will to carry re-usable bags round it's unbelievable, if you truly think getting rid of plastic bags is pointless you need a severe reality check.
It's kind of hard to think up a good reason why we should use plastic bags when re-usable bags are better all round. God forbid we ever try and better ourselves by being less wasteful for fear of some journalist who really apparently has nothing worth reporting on or lacks the skill to report on something worthwhile throwing up distrust over some completely minor reason out of thousands, including much more important reasons that are being used to explain why we should do away with plastic bags.
The government should be criticised over its failiure to use science properly. London should be criticised for banning bags altogether.
However, charging for plastic bags is a great evironmental idea, no matter what El reg's scattershot journalistic approach says. There is more to the environment than marine life!
With unscientific vote-grabbing policies from the Governemnt and petty points-scoring from the more cynical members of the press, one wonders what chance sensible policies have of getting through!
The Australian report is here, it is from 2002, I cannot find the version of this report which make the claim the Times is reporting. I cannot find the claimed retraction by the Australian government.
And when I do a search
[1981 1984 100,000 marine mammals plastic bags]
I get nothing but straw men sites saying plastic bags are not that bad. Which causes me to think this is a straw man attack.
When I add 'Greenpeace' to that search, I get the name of a person asking Greenpeace essentially the same thing on their forum, while planting the same claim. A search does not reveal this persons 'research paper', the man is loufeili, and claims to be writing a paper on plastic bags, a search on names [lou feili] does not reveal him or his paper.
IMHO, Plastic bags should cost money so that they are reused, if you want to give away bags, they should be biodegradable cellulose ones. If the plastic bag lobby wants to continue this path, they should be made to pay for the cleanup of their end product.
I've read quite a bit over the years about plastic bags. Never once have I come across anyone arguing that they kill sea life.
Isn't this a strawman argument? You are opposed to banning plastic bags, so you ascribe a flawed argument to your opponents. You then demonstrate the flaws in the argument and dismiss your opponents position in its entirety on that basis.
I always thought of the Register as bringing a greater intellectual rigour to its analysis than any other media outlet. So I'm rather disappointed by this article.
I have never seen sea life killed by plastic bags, but I have seen huge 'sargassos' of dead fish, dolphins, chunks of packing foam, seaweed and other crud wrapped in bright fishing nets floating in the sea between Hong Kong and Macau, as they drifted to shore and so came close to human traffic and the human eye. I wondered how many of these floating islands of rot were out beyond the horizon.
I have crossed the Gobi desert and seen, smashed up again the fences that protect the roads and the railway lines, hundreds and hundreds of plastic bags and plastic water bottles, stretching along the fences for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Human habitation was about 500 miles or more apart. This stuff either came from trucks, cars and trains, or had been blowing for thousands of miles to end up against these fences.
The aggregate result of being idle, of chucking stuff away without thought, of not caring about the impact of our actions, came home to me in these two distant places, because it was new and different. Nothing is so invisible as the landfill and litter and sea garbage we choose not to see in our own back yards.
If they are so damned non-biodegradable, how come anything I put into them to store, and then return to after a few years, I find the plastic bags falling into shreds ? 1,000 years my foot. Someone's telling porkies. Maybe someone managed to create one brand that lasted, but that sure ain't the brand that my local stores use. Anyway they are an insignificant proportion of landfill but a big convenience to the rest of us.
You have to look at the "total cost of ownership" of the plastic bag. It is much less than that of the bio-degradable "eco" paper bag. The energy/resources used to create a plastic bag are much less per bag IF it gets re-used.
Plastic bags last longer and can be easily re-used. The trouble is we DON'T re-use them - the majority get thrown away. Paper bags that are made to throw away because they bio-degrade use much more energy/resources per bag.
The answer is to reuse all those plastic bags not "burn them at the bottom of the garden". We have enough to last generations!
Along with not being able to consistently place spaces in your screen name, you also suffer from Foot-In-Mouth disease.
"Too many people with no experience or education of a particular subject /issue have to much influence on Government policy." closely followed up by demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of Economics, Retail Marketing and politics when you say "Maybe if the government over the last 25 years had stopped the supermarkets building hyper markets outside of the towns... "
Classic stuff. Thanks for the laugh.
Two things to be aware of regarding plastic bags:
Their durability makes them recyclable - in that they get used again and again. Real recycling that is. I keep hold of bags and use them for all sorts of things that would otherwise require me to go out and buy much thicker purpose-made bin-bags.
They're made using byproducts from petroleum distillation that would otherwise end up being dumped somewhere. Stop producing plastic bags and that stuff will have to go into something else.
I mean, sure, they make a mess, but wouldn't a campaign of getting people to actually put their rubbish in the bin be a better solution?
and the bag trees are blooming already. Don't know what a bag tree is?... look out the window the next time there's a good windy day about. you'll see plenty of trees with plastic bags all over them. these are the blooming bag trees! You know the bag trees are in full bloom when you catch a tumblebag in the radiator of your car and are forced to pull over to extract it.
I personally like the plastic shopping bags... they make great bin liners. I haven't needed to buy trash bags for at least a few years now.
mines the genuine nalgahide
I mean, I am not so wild about the sight of filthy plastic bags hanging off of a fence, tree, or lord knows where, but we might as well start keeping score.
THE RISE OF PLASTICS
Round 1 Paper or Plastic (bags)
Paper 0 - Plastic 1
winner: Petroplastic manufacturing companies
loser: Lumber and Paper
strategy: hug a tree save the planet...nevermind that plastic has a half life
Round 2 Paper or Plastic
Strategy: Plastic creates less waste in landfills, and is lighter
Round xyz Paper or Plastic: Paper strikes back
Strategy: Tastes just like jellyfish...urp.
Shall I continue? Yes it is very likely coordinated corporate perceptual warfare.
I couldn't work out how every plastic bag ended up in the stomach of a whale or sea turtle, according to the Daily Mail. Most bags end up in land fill or stuck in shrubbery. I'm pleased this slight oversight has been exposed.
Not all bags take 1000 years to degrade. Ocado (Waitroise Internet shopping) have a UK plant that makes and recycles bags that bio-degrade in just 2 years according to their PR. If true then this is brilliant and also eliminates shipping millions of bags in containers from China.
I also re-use plastic bags for soiled nappies, kitchen bin liners, etc. Why hasn't anyone complained about the much larger black bin bags which are only ever used once and have a one-way journey to land fill?
A choice between paper and plastic is a false choice. Most shopping centres near me only offer plastic and the staff are (un)trained to put even to most trivial item in a bag. The choice here is between sitting idle and letting nitiwits use plastic one time use bags or giving them an econimic penalty to remember to bring a cloth bag with em.
@ Iain Black "It's about reducing the amount going into landfill, the non biodegradability of them and reducing the pollution of manufacturing the things in the first place!"
Ahem, *everything*, including lead acid car batteries, is both biodegradable and recyclable. It may not be easy, or cheap, or even sensible, but sooner or later even that broken down car with no wheels in your neighbour's yard will eventually return to the earth from whence it came.
Buy less, use less, and use it til it's well and truly worn out.
Paris 'cause she's pretty worn out and seems to recycle herself, although not as well as Madonna.
All our carrier bags get thrown in the bin. As bin liners. This means that for the last 4 years we have bought precisely two rolls of bin liners, both for transporting bags full of stuff rather than actually lining bins. Could I do this with paper bags? Nope. In other words, it's not the bags themselves which are the problem, but litterbug wasters who can't be arsed to find a bin for their rubbish.
In the spirit of the Mikado, there's a strong argument for making the punishment fit the crime, and allowing police to dish out on-the-spot penalties for anyone caught littering. "I saw you drop that. Here's a bin-bag and a gripper, and you're spending the next half-hour picking up rubbish."
As for the increased suitability of paper bags, this ignores not only the fact that they are less energy-efficient (remember that trees need to be made into paper which takes more energy than making plastic) but also that they're a whole lot more likely to break. Anyone who's ever seen all their shopping drop out the bottom of a paper bag because the underside of a milk bottle was damp will appreciate at one.
Lord Taverne and Sense about Science have been discredited as paid schills for various people, go do a bit of googling for them.
A quick search turned this up
\Pirate icon as Sense about Science ride the high seas being destructive about real science
No effort has been spared to make people dependent on oil and its derivative products. By war, politics, subterfuge, elimination of alternatives, technology, marketing. The last fleece you bought came from oil, not off the back of a sheep - indeed, around the time of FMD the price of wool was so low it cost farmers money to have sheep sheared. And they call something a "fleece" that has not been within a 1000 miles of a sheep. The way of the world is far more cynical than most people care to imagine.
I thought the majority of the new placcy bags coming out of the supermarkets now aren't plastic, but corn starch - you know, the ones that you use to store stuff in your garage, and then come to them a couple of years later only to find that they've totally disintegrated, and not necessarily due to mice either.
FWIW I asked a couple of retailers (Ikea being one) why they no longer use Paper Bags. Apparently Paper Bags are actually less green than Plastic (or at least biodegradable plastic bags) because they take alot more energy to make and are less environmentally / CO2 friendly in their production.
So I can't understand the Government's tirade - it's just their usual misinformed bollocks.
Pete - you've nailed it with a high degree of precision. If no one else does, rest assured that I'll nominate you for a Nobel of one sort or another for a service to humanity.
Barry - kudos on pointing out the painfully obvious to some of our thicker-headed types. After all, even radioactive waste has a finite half-life - it's all dust to dust over some time scale.
The youth of today don't know or can't appreciate how people of the 1950's railed at what they called "planned obsolescence". Conservation was the rule rather than the exception
I would have taxed the hell out these things from day 1 if I had been in charge for the last 10 years. 10p Each plus and i would have made a killing for the public purse.
I wouldn't have bothered with any sort of scientific evidence, i'd just say they look like crap blowing about the city and country side, they are plastic and therefore use up oil, they block drains, the take up landfill room and we don't need them.
My argument would be if you really insist on them then you can give me some money.
Sometimes you don't need science or pseudo science to make a policy, sometimes you just need a little common sense.
(Paris because even she could figure it out)
You, too, huh?
On my block -- directly in front of my house, in fact -- there's this one tree that's had snagged, about two-thirds toward the top, a plastic grocery bag which -- I swear -- has been snagged up there for the past ten friggin' years. Seriously, I'd bet anyone in our neighborhood real money that it's the _same_goddamn'_bag_.
Also, in our kitchen cabinet, we still have the large plastic grocery bag stuffed full of smaller grocery bags, left over from when we still had a dog.
Not seen the politicians here (australia) give a suitable alternative to bin liners. Bin liners qualify as thin film plastic which I heard our government say would be to the effect of, illegal to manufacture. I use my plastic bags to line my bin because it keeps moisture in at time when there is rubbish with moisture. Yes despite the fact I compost bios. Because I do also use solid bags at the shops I sometimes run out of shopping bags to recycle as bin liners, the result is I use a bag from a roll of thin film plastic bags made for bins which look and feel no different to a shopping bag.
Now I can ASUME they intend of providing me with waxed paper bags to put in my bin? Are they going to supply the solid bags for shopping? I've had to buy them to date. What happens to the waxed bags? Are they polluting in manufacturing? Do they pollute after dumping? Not sure of what alternatives they are actually thinking because they never mention it.
Instead of stuffing us all around and dipping your (governments hands) hand in my wallet yet again. Try developing the degradable industry and replace the existing thin film bags with degradable thin film bags with no change to the public setup. How ever that may be in existing areas.
If they start charging for bin liners I'll start dumping my rubbish loose into my bin. The council can stuff themeless if they have a problem with emptying into their trucks. If they start hassling me with fines because I refuse to use something like wax bags I'll have to buy I'll go for a drive and dump it...
Not me literally, but I know people will do it. They do already which means there will be yet another reason for illegal polluting dumping... If you like the Simposons you might recognize this quote form Marge "Think harder..." This problem isn't solved by banning manufacturing of thin film plastics and taxing the use of bags in shops. Think harder...
As it is, over a third of my income is absorbed by rent, thanks for rent shortage. I can't afford more government dipping. But then again if I'm homeless I wont have a bin to line.
Charging for bags, that is. The reason is mainly to stop a syndrome here that's become known as the "national flower" -- plastic bags sprouting all over the countryside from unthinking people tossing them aside.
Having said that, I'm not sure that charging for bags has made much diffference. I routinely see even the poorest people walking out of stores with tiny purchases in a plastic bag. It's likely that they asked for the bag without even realising that they just paid for it.
Whilst use of any bad science to develop policy needs reporting and shaming, I can't help thinking that the Reg is developing a strong envirosceptic stance, particularly in what it chooses to report and what it doesn't.
Is this anti-green stance reflecting the readership? I hope not!
Let's also pay for shop's rent and electricity bill. After all, we can all be eco-friendly and only shop in the daytime out of the back of the store truck, right? Next time you're in the shop, leave a tip for the cashier as well, it's not like she's being being paid out of store' profit margin.
Do all of you really believe that the customers in the stores aren't already charged for the bags?
Can't believe my eyes when I see people writing crap like that
If supermarket plastic bags are outlawed then people like me will be forced to use thicker (one-time function specific) bin liners in their kitchen waste units (thereby choking up landfill even more and consuming more hydrocarbons in their manufacture), will be forced to use a variety of of purchased function specific items for storing bread and other foods in their freezers, wrapping things for transportation, and so on.
Yes, let's have some more unthought out, unresearched legislation, and let's have a good go at screwing up environment and humanoids within.
O' Labour, Labour, what has become of you? Will you have another 17 years in the wilderness?
...is a nice gesture but does nothing for the fact that almost everything we buy, from flat-pack furniture to consumer electronics, is designed to only last a few years and willend up in a hole in the ground within a few years of being manufactured.
Surely the most environmentally-friendly stance would be to build things to last and discourage 'planned obsolescence', and leave the poor plastic bag well alone...
I find both bags to be useful and necessary but they each have their places.
Ya ever try and make an emergency rain coat out of a paper bag ?????
Standard concert going attire .... one Glad Hefty Bag folded up in ya back pocket. I keep a small roll in the SUV for when I'm on construction sites, camping trips, etc. Don't like jumping in car after inspecting a construction site with a mud covered raincoat nor bringing same inside a nice dry and clean car / tent. Having a plastic bag over ya body however does give the construction contractors another reason to call the Engineer a prick !
Pop arm and head holes in a Glad Bag and ya can keep dry and then if it's really covered with mud and grime, ya can toss into trash can before you enter a clean, dry place. If ya survive relatively clean, I take it off, tie of the bottom and use it as my "in vehicle" garbage bag until it's full. I usually save the last 5 or so bags in a roll and throw that under the car seat. Generally lasts me 2-4 years and takes up far less space and weight than a slicker.
As for grocery bags, they oughtta deduct 1% of the bill if ya bring ya own bags. Only then will peeps stop using them. I particularly like the peeps who can't decide paper or plastic and put the groceries inside a paper bag which then goes inside a plastic bag. Seems like they just wanna piss off both sides.
Jo, give us the links to these articles please. Because I for one think this is a classic rubbish. Find one dodgy paper, and tar the whole lot with it.
I dont have as much access to articles and papers any more .. but even I can find this reference page 36
Where the dangers to Loggerheads from plastic bags are well put. The problem being they look like Jellyfish and clog the 'ickle turtles tummies.
Also, I'm not keen on the countryside looking like your flat after a heavy w/e, you might not give a shit about your environs, but plastic bag trees do not fill me with joy. Why the rush to the basement on every issue? why continue to shit in your own proverbial gaff ? Do you live in Stains ?
All which goes to show, its not plastic bags per se, that are the problem. Its humans, free, and a waste disposal policy where its still cheaper to landfill than recycle.
From todays granuaid ...
"The sort of mentality that is prepared to carefully bag up litter and then hurl it into a hedge is beyond my comprehension."
Thank you Mr Edwards, its beyond mine as well.
Mines the Nomex Winter Jacket
"All aboard the Green Band Wagon" I can’t believe the Government have outlined carrier bags as a major problem for our society and that it was even mentioned in yesterday’s budget! We have major problems with the people dying from hospitals not being clean and they think the answer is taxing or banning free giveaway carrier bags?
I shop at Coop and Tesco and both have degradable bags that disappear after 3 years, not 100 years or 1,000 years like some of the papers are saying! I use these bags, not only to take my shopping home, but also many other uses such as to carry my lunch, my football boots and my son’s swimming kit, once they are worn out, they are used as bin liners in my bin. This saves me buying heavy weight bin liners which are not degradable! Coop and Tesco like other stores give these away free because they know that this is a very inexpensive way of advertising that is not a detriment to the environment.
People say about using paper bags instead, but this would be more harmful to the environment because of their carbon footprint before they are even used! They take 5 times the amount of energy to make and are more bulky to transport. I also wouldn’t fancy using them in the rain. However the ones I’ve seen have a plastic coating on them, so how long they take to degrade, who knows.
Ireland put a tax on the bag a few years ago and now they import more polythene through increased usage of bin liners, than ever before, so it if the government want to reduce polythene then that method doesn’t work. We should all reduce, re-use and recycle, but carrier bags can all be degradable if put in landfill and easily be recyclable if not.
I also have a few bags for life but unfortunately I quite often these as bin liners although they are not degradable. I even invested in a cotton bag and Jute bag for life, but never remember to take them to the shop. Even my Jute bag has a plastic lining inside!
I think by stopping using carriers, people will shop less at their local convenience stores, butchers, bakers etc. and will instead to go to ‘out of town supermarkets’, where they can take their trolleys direct to their cars, adding to the "death of the high street."
The government is also trying to promote Bio-fuels, and this is having a devastating effect on the rainforests - oh that’s right the UK doesn’t have any rainforests. However on a positive there’s not going to be any trees left for the odd discarded crisp packet or plastic bag to be blown into!
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