Thursday, 5 June 2014

Most fun with plastic bags

As long as he's not talking about land, Allister Heath digs up some good stuff:

Taxing plastic bags isn’t as significant, of course, and some large chains already charge. But the tax will impose costs on some people and therefore further bolster the cost of living crisis.

There is also worrying evidence from the US that suggests that bans on plastic bags can have devastating side-effects that environmental campaigners have never even considered.

The problem is that reusable bags can be very unhygienic, especially when used to carry meat but also in other cases; they are frequently not washed or disinfected enough, which can cause terrible problems.

The research might or might not be flawed but you have to think about stuff like this.

He loses marks for this bit though:

... the ban increased some deaths from food poisoning and bacterial infections by 25 per cent

That's a typical bansturbator-scary-headline. If the number of such deaths went up from 4 to 5 out of a population of millions, it is meaningless.


paulc156 said...

What bothers me about the bags is the damage done to wildlife, marine in particular. Four versus five per million deaths is not a game changer as you say and people can look after themselves, unlike animals coming into contact with our rubbish. The best outcome here would be zero revenue raised as a result of the tax. That would at least mean the objective was realised.

DBC Reed said...

How is it these scientific types cannot invent a plastic bag that biodegrades with sunlight ,so avoiding much bother?
Also pre-plastic bags there used to be heavy-duty brown paper carrier bags with string handles.
What happened to them?

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, fair enough. But that is because people don't discard of them properly, and marine life have got bigger problems than plastic bags, i.e. over-fishing.

DBC, firstly they have done, and secondly, even normal plastic bags do degrade, and surprisingly quickly.

They must do, or else why isn't the countryside completely littered with them?

Bayard said...

"and surprisingly quickly."

as you find out the hard way if you store stuff in them for any length of time.

"and therefore further bolster the cost of living crisis."

Oh, purleeze! 10p for a carrier bag you can use for at least six months is hardly going to break the bank.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, yes "cost of living crisis" crocodile tears from Heath, there.

AFAIAC, the "cost of living crisis" is felt most keenly by people who have to pay two-thirds of their gross income in tax and rent. The actual cost of "stuff' is minimal.

DBC Reed said...

Apparently plastic bags don't biodegrade in water as the sunlight cannot get them up to a sufficient temperature.

There is plenty of plastic blowing about landfill sites.

BTW Have just seen a magnificent brown paper carrier bag on Neighbours having a flat bottom so it remained upright while being unpacked.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, quite possibly they don't, hence the vast swirls of plastic bits in various oceans.

However, if kept in sheds, rubbish tips, the soil etc, exposed to a combination of water, bacteria, sunlight, warmth etc, they will disappear into nothing after a few years.

That said, I'm a big fan of waste separation and recycling of what we can (paper, plastic, metal, glass*); composting what will rot and incinerating the rest.

* What annoys me is packaging which is foil and plastic or paper and plastic fused together i.e. Tetrapak.

I'm the sort of person who puts the lid of a Pringles container in the plastic and chops off the metal bottom, puts that with metal and then puts the paper tube in the waste paper.

Bayard said...

"There is plenty of plastic blowing about landfill sites."

Thewre is plenty of plastic blowing around the countryside, most of it silage and haylage bale wrappers which are not biodegradeable, for obvious reasons. The Irish, I hear, call plastic stuck in trees, "witches' knickers".

"Have just seen a magnificent brown paper carrier bag on Neighbours having a flat bottom so it remained upright while being unpacked."

The daft thing about the carrier bag tax, at least in Wales, is that it applies to paper bags as well.