back to article Bag tax recycled into eco-PR slush

These days, the interests of big business and big government are so perfectly "aligned", you can't shine a light through the resulting hairball. Whether it's public works, defense or IT contractors; or huge advertising agencies, PR firms, and the media who benefit from them - corporate interests and bureaucrats are now as snug …


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  1. Andy Pellew
    IT Angle

    Truth is probably somewhere in the middle ...

    Between Greenpeace and the (clear) views of this writer.

    To suggest that all Greepeace research is "scare stories" is exactly the same as claiming that it's not clear that man is causing global warming.

    Truth is somewhere in the middle.

    Ok. Can we all hug now?

    PS. How do I nominate the writer for the "most tenuous link to IT" award? Clearly the writer had a point to make and an IT publication to make it in! Very nicely done ...

  2. michael

    Ministry of Truth??

    do we have one of thouse?

    do we have a ministry of love as well

    2008 not 1984

    I was just going.....

  3. Neil Hoskins

    Well Said That Man...

    Greenpeace lost the plot a long time ago, the plastic bag thing is just one example. Plastic food trays now take twice the petro-chemicals and more energy to produce as a result of their misinformation campaign against PVC.

  4. Alex Cochrane

    Fiction becoming fact

    Sounds like Ben Elton's 'This other Eden' is becoming a reality

  5. Anonymous Coward

    1m Environmental Jobs in a few years

    More administration jobs for the beaurocracy industry that our government is so fond of.

    We gave up manufacturing and primary industries and we now have a service industry and a administration industry leeching off those services.

    The push to promote taxes on Green Issues allows the government to keep unemployment down and taxes up by creating imaginary green jobs.

  6. jimbarter
    Paris Hilton

    net result

    I remember reading somewhere

    that the threat caused by plastic bags was actually the result of a misprint and it should have been plastic nets...

    ...oh well, paris, cos she's more plastic than either.

  7. Jeff
    Paris Hilton

    looking at the HMRC out-turn estimates...

    it's interesting that with all these 'green' transport taxes... the estimated expenditure on transport and on the environment are falling (as a % of total outturn) every year for the next 5 years.

    And the expenditure on local government and filling up the NHS black holeis going up every year...

    Not even Paris would believe these takes have anything to do with the environment

  8. Trygve Henriksen


    Yeah, quoting Watson makes the article sooo much more professional...

    Does he still have that old, pollution-spewing MTB he used to putter about in when he made an arsehole of himself in Norway?

    If anyone sees him, please tell him that the police still have a warrant out for him, and a cozy cell reserved...

    I don't like the Greanpeace, either, and they won't get a dime from me until they try to put a stop to the torture of innocent bovines(this is jokingly called 'bullfighting', but to call it a fight it needs to be a bit more even)

    Oh, and the nice, black leather jacket with fur lining is mine...

  9. Spleen


    Thanks for the Paul Watson link. Although the author is part of the same busybodying evangelist eco-cult, and parts of his rant about how Sea Shephard saves whales so much harder are tiresome, it still illustrates an important point. That Greenpeace has joined the RSPCA and the NSPCC as one of those organisations that after sufficient bureaucratic growth and ideological inbreeding starts to think of itself as a legitimate government, police force, judge and jury rolled into one. Those green surveys on businesses and gadgets a few months ago which rated some businesses as '0' and scathingly described them as evil polluting bastards, when in fact they just hadn't bothered to fill out the survey, is further proof.

  10. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Bag use

    OK, so I will still have to use plastic bags to put my rubbish in (I line all of the bins in my house, one per room, with supermarket carrier bags), and also to sort my recycling into (cans, glass etc.) but instead of re-cycling the bags from the supermarket, I will have to buy them instead.

    I probably will still use a similer number of bags, and these will still probably end up in landfill. But guess who will benefit. The supermarkets. Instead of giving me bags, they will now be able to SELL me them. A cost item becomes one generating profit.

    And there is another environmental down side. Currently supermarket bags degrade over time in landfill, but the polythene bin bags used to replace them probably won't. I would also like to know what happens to the bag-for-life bags once the supermarkets have swapped them for new ones. Are they recycled? What are the energy cost comparisons in the recycling process vs. the costs of making disposible bags.

    All I am saying is that nothing is simple or obvious.

  11. Trygve Henriksen


    You CAN buy 'degradable' bags for your garbage. And in fact, you SHOULD do it as these use a much thinner plastic than your grocery bags.

    As for the grocery bags, it's not that difficult to fold it and stuff into a pocket for yuor next trip to the supermarket, is it?

    (I expect one bag to last through 3 or 4 uses, at least.)

    Of course, as a baggie costs .5NOK here(approx $.1 at the moment), that can end up as a pretty nice saving in throughout the year.

    (A roll of 15/30L garbage bags suitable for all sorts of trash usually end up with a unit-price of half that, or less. )

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Watson? (@Trygve)

    Trygve said:

    " I don't like the Greanpeace, either, and they won't get a dime from me until they try to put a stop to the torture of innocent bovines(this is jokingly called 'bullfighting', but to call it a fight it needs to be a bit more even) "

    Whoa there. Greenpeace is a charity for nature. Bulls are domestic animals, so they are not for Greenpeace to concern themselves with.

    A charity can extend its remit as much as it likes, but the more it does so, the more it proclaims its own truth which may not reflect the views of its members.

    Amnesty International, for example, was set up to campaign on behalf of "prisoners of conscience" and the right to free political expression, but they slowly broadened their remit to "human rights". OK, we all agree that all people deserve basic human rights, but we don't agree what those rights are. Amnesty International believe that one of those rights is the right to abortion. Their long-term allies in the churches disagreed.

    Amnesty used to be one of the newshounds' favourite quotables, but who ever hears about Amnesty International any more?

    Back to bulls and Greenpeace. There are plenty of people who are concerned about the environment but see farm animals as relatively fair game -- they're not part of the natural ecosystem after all. Even if you disagree with them on the farm animals, you can still work to a common goal regarding whales and chemical pollution in our rivers.

    Separation of concerns -- one campaign group for one issue. Keep it simple and keep a concensus.

  13. Shabble

    Eco-conciousness raising

    I've still to hear one person suggest that re-using (as opposed to recycling) plastic bags as a basic concept is a bad idea. Also, it is worth pointing out that if we are to get out of the mess that the scientists suggest we are in, then we all need to change our daily behaviour. The platsic bag issue could be the thin end of the wedge - something we all do every day as a reminder that we need to think about the environment at all times. This is like how buying fair trade tea, coffee and sugar is a constant reminder that poor people in poor countries are suffering as a result of our skin-flintery (and is why some people pooh-pooh fair trade - they'd rather not have to think about people suffering).

    Of course, there is a great deal of PR here as the government doesn't want to offend any powerful rich people, but still wants to play the green card. Unfortunately, the only way to stop governments behaving like PR companies is to stop voting for them. The British population had a great chance to do this, but instead decided to vote for a government that can't get it right when explaining why we should invade other countries, let alone when explaining why plastic bags are bad for the environment.

  14. Trygve Henriksen

    If 'GreenFleece' is concerned about whales...

    Why don't they try to put a stop to the rather more barbaric hunting techniques used by eskimos?

    Or even on Faroe islands?

    If they want to be taken seriously they should treat EVERYONE the same way...

    But no....

    GreenFleece isn't in it to save the planet. They're in it for the money and the (in)fame. They pick on Norwegian and Japanese whalers because they KNOW that they can get away with it. If ANY other type of organisation used the same methods they would already have been labelled a terrorist organisation. (Ramming boats, throwing ACIDS... )

    And frankly, I don't see the big difference between hunting whales, reindeers or even bulls, really.

    It's a resource, and the only difference is how it's maintained.

    (Except for making bl**dy certain there are enough of them, we leave the whales to sort that out by themselves, reindeers are herded, but mostly left to do what they do by themselves, and bulls... Gets the short end of the stick... )

    Taking my coat and heading home for a nice whale-meat dinner...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Trygve Henriksen

    "Of course, as a baggie costs .5NOK here(approx $.1 at the moment), that can end up as a pretty nice saving in throughout the year."


    currently bags cost $0.00 (or 0.0N or 0p or zero in any currency you'd care to name) here

    so can you run your 'saving' sum past me again

    because even if you buy only one bag a year and care for it like it were god's own panties you're down the cost of one bag

  16. Neil Hoskins

    Biodegradable Garbage Bags

    Why would you want to do that? If the bags biodegrade they give off CO2, a greenhouse gas. If they don't biodegrade, and sit at the bottom of a landfill site for the foreseeable future, the carbon stays fixed. Garbage bags and supermarket bags are a soft target because they're ugly. Apart from their ugliness they do sod all harm to the environment.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    @AC: zero cost bags.


    Even though the direct unit cost of a plastic bag is zero doesn't mean it has zero real cost to you.

    It's a shop overhead. Do you think overheads are covered by the shop? No -- they're included in prices. Stopping the free plastic bags will reduce the cost of all your shopping by a small amount. If you use your bin-liners efficiently, you should go through fewer bags. You will save money. OK, not a lot of money, but money.

    And to everyone who reckons they'll use as many "paid for" plastic bags as the "free" ones they use now:

    Everything comes into your home in a plastic bag. You take out the contents, and squash the packaging. It is now smaller. You therefore need fewer bags to take out the rubbish than to bring in the shopping. The extras are waste and an inefficiency in the system.

    Ignore climate change. Think of all the wonderful things we can make out of petrochemicals: drainpipes that don't corrode; paint that lasts for years before needing repainted; durable, washable work surfaces; lightweight travel tableware; breathable waterproof clothing; and -- oh yes! -- medicines. And what are we doing with our oil? Making little bags to carry our food home in.

    I don't think that's a very good use of one of the Earth's most valuable resources. (And a limited one at that.)

  18. Maureen Woodham

    Green spin

    I donated to Greenoeace for years because of their anti whaling stance. Only two years ago did I realize they were spinning the whole issue on land and sea. Love him or hate him Paul Watson he is the real deal, his clients really are sea mammals thats why thousands of people like me now donate to Sea Shepherd.

  19. Neil Hoskins

    @ AC re "drainpipes that don't corrode"

    Do you know *why* they don't corrode? And *why* the paint lasts for years? Because it's full of horrible heavy metals and carcinogenic plasticisers! *None* of which are present in supermarket bags.

  20. John A Blackley

    What a loverly diversion!

    So what's the argument? That people shouldn't use supermarket plastic bags (instead, taking home their 95% plastic wrapping, 5% food purchases in a nice, hairy bag made from the shavings from enironmentalists' legs)? How about not reusing supermarket plastic bags for garbage (instead using the 'biodegradable' bags that actually 'biodegrade' while you're using 'em with the result that your 'bio' ends up all over the floor when you try to lift the bag out of the bin)? Maybe it's Greenpeace - is it or is it not A Good Thing (despite being a collection of sanctimonious, annoying 'mentalists who refuse to donate their leg hair to the supermarket bag industry)?

    Supermarket plastic bags are not, in themselves, intrinsically evil. The government's threatened tax on supermarket plastic bags is not intended to eliminate or even reduce their use (self-eliminating taxes are not in the government's interest). The government will not 'ring fence' the revenue resulting from the threatened tax and use it for anything to do with 'the environment'.

    Get a clue, people. It''s going to happen and it's a tax. Being a tax, the revenue will disappear into government accounting and will be used - like most of your taxes - to feed the megolamania of politicians and buy them the shiny things that demonstrate they're superior to you.

    Just keep chewing the cud and delivering the money.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AC: zero cost bags reply,

    if you really think that the cost of shopping will come down the cost of plastic bags, then fair enough, from what i can tell it hasn't anywhere that a bag charge has come into place. But a quick search has found a manufacturer can produce me some plastic bags for less than a penny a bag i'm guessing the supermarket's get them much cheaper so maybe 1p saving for 10 bags. And any money saved for the company by not buying bags will be taken up by administrating the charge, especially now the government has gotten involved, with the 'profit' going towards hundreds of bag coordinators driving around the country checking stores aren't giving free bags out

    anyhow i'm not objecting, per se, to charging for plastic bags, i'm objecting to people claiming it saves money by sticking a great charge onto the cost of doing <something> then claiming by not doing <something> your making money when in fact you're avoiding paying for <something> net change zero. It costs £34 to go to alton towers today, i didn't go i haven't made £34 from that decision.

  22. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    The point is ...

    Leaving aside the sins of plastic, why should taxes go directly into the marketing budget of propaganda outfits?

    Or maybe this is OK, and no one objects to it. In which case I'll get my coat...

  23. Wigan Wigan

    @Andrew Orlowski : The point is not...

    Tax money for Greenpeace? They say at

    "Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments.."

    - as if any governments would offer in the first place!

  24. Daniel B.
    Thumb Up

    @Andrew Orlowski

    True. If it were something like "200% cigarrette tax going for health care organizations/lung cancer orginazations" I would agree, as those would actually be of some use.

    Greenpeace, well... I don't really agree with them anymore. Besides some stuff where they are right, most of what they spew these days is scaremongering, and trying to take down the few carbon-neutral energy generation alternatives like fusion power.

    Yet I haven't seen them trash crop-based biofuels yet...

  25. Jim
    Thumb Down


    What axe is there to grind with Greenpeace?. All because Mr Page said "presumably including organisations such as the Greenpeace Environmental Trust"? Hardly compelling evidence given that Wigan Wigan (with the tiniest of research) pointed out that "Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments..", or corporations for that matter, and that this ideal is publically stated.

    @Wigan Wigan

    You would be amazed at who HAS made offers..

    A few other little facts that may be of interest with regard to this article

    1. Paul Watson was a founding member and not a co-founder of Greenpeace or what has become that organistion anyway.

    2. Paul Watson has said that every time he bad mouths Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd gains (both supporters and finacially) and that this effect is intended. I have heard it from the man in person.

    @Trygve Henriksen

    Greenpeace do not ram other vessels, throw acid, etc. You appear to be getting them confused with Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd.

    Greenpeace aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but at least you could try and find a fault that isn't based on assumption...

  26. Jacob

    Tired of hypocrites

    Hot air about environment, that's what all of this is. Plastic bags? Right. Perhaps they should stop flying on their private jets first, and focus on green energy sources/ Some food for thought:

  27. Peter

    Just the facts, man... such as they are... er, so far

    It has all rather got folk excited, for sure.

    A while while ago I decided to have a rummage into what was what because I really didn't know. But I didn't feel I was as well informed as I could.. or should be.

    I am now older, a tad wiser, but still getting to grips with the fact that whatever 'we' may or may not 'need' to do, it sure won't be easy, or the journey eased well in any way by our government, media and corporate establishments.

    If you have 5 mins to share my journey...:

  28. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Read the article, Wigan

    You need also need to get up to speed:

    "Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments.." - as if any governments would offer in the first place!"

    Er, the government has just offered. That's the point.

    We'll see if the Greenpeace Trust, if offered a donation from the proposed tax, refuses to accept the donation. As you say, if it is consistent with its stated policy, it will decline the offer.

    The EU likes to splash the cash. See:

    "In 2006 the EU gave more than 7.7m euros (£5.5m; $11.2m) to at least 40 environmental organisations to help them lobby in Brussels... only Greenpeace refused the cash."

  29. michael


    if the goverment is looking for a good green place to donate the mony to might I sugest praphs THE RAIL NETWORK!!! or praphs THE UNDERGROUND!! or maby any number of over GOVERMENT green projects

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