Call for levy on single-use bags

Morrisons plastic bags at checkoutA levy on single-use plastic bags should be introduced in England, environmental groups have urged.

The call comes after the latest figures showed the number of carrier bags being given out by supermarkets rose by more than 5% last year across the UK, the second consecutive annual rise.
According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers used almost eight billion carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4% rise on the 7.6 billion in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month.
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But in Wales, where a 5p charge was introduced last October, the amount of single-use bags being taken home has fallen significantly.

England is the only part of the UK which has no plans for a plastic bag charge, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Surfers Against Sewage are calling for one to be brought in.

The organisations say plastic bags end up littering England's streets, countryside and beaches, while in the sea they can entangle or be swallowed by wildlife.

Most plastic takes an estimated 450 to 1,000 years to degrade at sea, but plastic may never fully degrade but simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces - eventually forming plastic dust, the environmental groups said.

Samantha Harding, CPRE "stop the drop" campaign manager, said bag levies had been shown to work in Wales and in Ireland, where plastic bag use fell by 90% following the introduction of a charge.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: "We want to work with retailers to help them lift their game to cut the number of bags they hand out.

"We are monitoring the results of the charging scheme in Wales and the outcome of the Scottish consultation on a charge."

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Call for levy on single-use bags

This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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