Green campaigners have been pushing for higher prices for so-called bags, following a dramatic increase in sales among some retailers since the end of sales of single-use plastic carrier bags.
According to figures from Greenpeace and the Environmental Intelligence Agency (EIA), Marx & Spencer sold six times as many bags in 2019 as the previous year, ranging from 13.4m to 82.6m. Iceland tripled its sales to 107.3m from 34m the previous year.
On Monday, the government will introduce legislation to increase tariffs on single-use bags from 5p to 10p and extend tariffs on small and independent shops and large chains. But campaigners have made it irrelevant because most supermarkets have removed carrier bags, and now shoppers are buying bags for life, significantly more plastic, up to 20p.
According to figures from Greenspeace and EAA, supermarkets sold 1.58 billion bags in 2019, equivalent to 57 per household in the UK – more than once a week.
Morrisons, which sold 110.8m bags alive in 2019, announced earlier this month that it would end all plastic bag sales altogether. Waitros, which sells about 22m a year continuously, removes them from sale in some stores. In 2019, Asta sold 41% more, from 205m to 288.9m. Tesco Life bags are the top seller, selling 528m in 2019, but that’s down 26% from 713 million in the previous year. Sainsbury’s 236.3 m.
The government moved against carrier bags in 2018 after the David Attenborough series Blue Planet II Demonstrates damage to the oceans by plastic waste.
But many efforts against the use of plastic have since ceased. Although some plastic microbes are banned, with plastic straws and strippers, the microplastic barrier applies only to cosmetics, which contain 9% plastic contaminants from deliberately added microplastics.
The EU regulates their use in personal care products, fertilizers, paints and polishes, which contain 90% of the pollution, according to the Green Alliance. And last month the government announced that plans for a new deposit scheme for the first promised beverage bottles in 2018 have been pushed back to at least 2024.
Libby Peek, leader of the Green Alliance’s resource policy, said: “Blue Planet II Once upon a time there was a generational program that encouraged the nation to demand change in how we design and use plastics. While the government has made some progress, it has so far largely missed this opportunity, with delays, delays and precise policy formulation. “The recent move on plastic bags summarizes this issue. We move forward and create other potential problems. We make it clear that life bags, when used for a week or less, are not ‘green’ alternatives and should have a higher price point to prevent re-purchase. ”
The Green Alliance and the EAA should follow Ireland’s lead and raise the charge for life bags to at least 70p. The Irish government set the life price bag at a minimum of 70 cents, which led to a 90% reduction in sales.
Compulsory reporting of sales of the bike in other activities and retailers should not be allowed to keep the proceeds in the bag for life sale.
Baroness Jones, a leading Labor spokeswoman for the Environment in Lord’s, said: “I ask the Minister why the delayed action on single-use plastic bags does not apply to the additional restrictions on the sale of thick plastic bags. Life that prevents misuse. Otherwise we risk a catastrophic effect that is even more harmful to the environment.
“Ultimately, plastic manufacturers must take full responsibility for the pollution caused by these products, and consumers need better incentives to use clean, green, long-lasting products.”
Christina Dixon, EIA’s senior marine campaigner, said: “Good intentions can have unplanned environmental consequences and the plastic bag policy needs to be reconsidered. Plastic bags for life are offered in staggering numbers. The ‘Pie for a Week’ event can only be replaced with ambitious and decisive leadership driven by a truly green agenda. ”
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said there was no plan to charge extra for life bags. A spokesman said: “The UK is a global leader in the handling of plastics, and our 5B carrier bag fee has reduced sales in major supermarkets by 95%
“There is still work to be done. We will go further by raising the minimum tariff to ப 10 and expanding it to all retailers this spring, rather than letting billions of bags circulate and accelerating our war on plastic pollution.
“Our landmark environmental bill will empower us to take further action to protect our ecosystems from plastic and break our plastic habits for good.”
A spokesman for Marks & Spencer said sales of life bags are on the rise in 2019 because “we removed single-use bags from our stores, which means the total number of bags sold has dropped”.