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03-16-2015

UK Carrier Bag Industry Criticizes Bag Tax Legislation

PAFA (UK Packaging and Films Association) says that the bag tax legislation due to come into force in England on 5 October has been rushed through before the general election with the result that it ignores many expert views, is incomplete on the issue of exemptions, ill-advised on the role of so-called biodegradable bags, out of line with similar taxes in Wales and Scotland and will cause widespread retailer and consumer confusion across the UK.

Following the go-ahead for the new tax given on March 10 by Dan Rogerson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Barry Turner, CEO of PAFA said, “It’s particularly disappointing that the Minister is not taking account of the many representations made not just by our own industry but by retailers and other expert organisations including the government’s own environmental audit committee particularly on the proposed exemptions to this tax. This will inevitably result in confusing messages for retailers and for consumers."

PAFA says although one could applaud the pursuit of innovation to try to find a material that will degrade in all environments and that can be assured to have no impact on recycling streams, to even propose an exemption at this time for a material that presently does not exist or without standards against which the performance of such a material can be measured, shows further reluctance by government to tackle the root cause of littering in the UK in a systematic way and to opt for targeting the products that are littered instead.

Paper Bags Are No Solution

PAFA also reiterated the view that the bag tax will do no nothing to help change behaviour with regard to littering in general, as plastic bags represent only around 0.2% of litter and household waste. “If anything, with paper bags now being exempt from the charge, there is a real threat that we will suffer more paper in the litter stream, so the government is in real danger of creating more problems with this apparent solution. The packaging industry needs to rally together and move the debate on litter forward to focus it where it should be - on consistent enforcement of existing regulation, changing behaviour, moving toward a zero tolerance on litter by all and finally ensuring proper provision to ensure that litter bins are in the right place, that there are sufficient in number and they are emptied regularly” said Turner.

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