For our first guest interview, Plastic Expert are really pleased to introduce Andy Cummins.
Andy is the Campaigns Director for Surfers Against Sewage, an environmental charity protecting UK waves, oceans and beaches. Last year, Surfers against Sewage launched the ‘Break The Bag Habit’ campaign in an attempt to end the use of plastic bags.
Surfers Against Sewage.
Q: Hi Andy, what is the main goal of your campaign?
The Break The Bag Habit coalition is working towards a consistent bag charge across the UK that can help act as a reminder for shoppers to use reusable bags. We have almost achieved our goal, however, the English bag charge scheme now looks to be undermined by inconsistencies that will unfortunately cause confusion on the high street. For example, needless exemptions for SME and paper bags are caveats that will only be relevant to England.
Q: So when the plastic bag levy is introduced, how will it affect your campaign? Do you think it will be easier or harder to encourage people to cease using plastic bags?
We’ve seen how effective the bag charge has been in Wales with single-use bags been reduced by approximately 75% and there’s been a similar success in Northern Ireland. In England, we use 7.6 billion single-use bags a year, and that’s far too many.
Surfers Against Sewage is suggesting the charge should be set at 5p. As the average English shopper uses 133 bags a year that would only add £6.50 to their shopping bill over the year. So it won’t break the bank but it does act as great motivator for shoppers to remember their reusable bags.
Q: Your pledge is nearing half a million bags, how much higher would you like to get this figure?
We want to offset millions of bags! So please, after reading this article go to www.BreakTheBagHabit.org.uk and take the pledge to stop using single-use bags.
Q: Do you think the complete eradication of plastic carrier bags is possible, and how would it happen?
Plastic is a useful material when used for the appropriate product. But plastic isn’t an appropriate material for any single-use item. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it just fragments, into smaller and smaller pieces. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in the environment today, and will be for a long time to come (with the exception of the plastics we’ve incinerated).
There are lots of countries that have introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags and they include:
· West Bengal,
· South Africa,
· India, (outright ban in large area’s including Mumbai)
Eradicating the plastic bag would be possible, it would just need the supporting legislation.
Q: What are your suggested alternatives to plastic bags?
Bags for life, that are made out of durable, low impact materials. Paper bags can still have a significant environmental impact and we are also hoping single-use paper bags will be included in the charge.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add for the benefit of our audience?
We often hear the phrase “there is no plan(et) B”. So we all need to think about adopting sustainable achievable solutions. The bag charge is an easy solution that will help us all to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. We need to adopt many more solutions like this that have minimal impact on our lives but implemented throughout society can have significant positive impacts on the environment.
See what Andy said about recent amendments to the Plastic Bag Tax here.
Thanks Andy. Good luck with your campaign!
If you feel that you could make a simple lifestyle change that would benefit the environment, please go to www.BreakTheBagHabit.org.uk and take the pledge to stop using single-use bags.