Ban The Bag: First Modbury, Now London

What a heartening way to start the week.

Just yesterday I was thinking it was great that Modbury has now officially banned the plastic bag. BBC Nature’s Rebecca Hosking deserves all the plaudits she is recieving for leading the campaign. But it could never happen in London, I thought.

That was, until I read the Daily Telegraph this morning (its not my usual tipple, but I was on a plane) and saw a story on page 9, London Shops May Stop Giving Out Plastic Bags.

“Shops in London could be banned from handing out plastic bags under a new law.”

The initiative comes from London Councils, the umbrella group representing all local authorities in the capital: shoppers would have to bring their own bags or buy reusable ones at the till. To be fair, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury have already made great strides in this regard, offering nice jute bagsand so on, but a legal restriction can help a lot to really drive a behavioural change.

For those that consider such schemes to be an “outrageous attack” on their liberty I would encourage them to consider the 4bn plastic bags a year that go to landfill in the UK each year. Perhaps a more encouraging thought should come from the smoking bans in major European cities. Arriving at Barcelona airport this morning was so much more pleasant and welcoming than usual. Smoke really has no place in public buildings. One day we may feel the same about using plastic bags. [So much for a new libertarian-minded bias… Ed.]

Its a shame the BBC doesn’t put its considerable weight behind the plastic bag campaign on a national basis, which would be an excellent use of license fee money, as far as i can see, tapping into grassroots concerns about the environment. Why not give Rebecca a show and a campaign?

But, you can’t always hope for top down support. As the Telegraph reports, another option would be to introduce a tax on plastic bags, “but such a move is likely to be rejected by the Treasury.”

As usual in the UK, leadership isn’t coming from the top. Well done London Umbrella. I hope you succeed.

Next… the world?

picture courtesy of polandeze, take on a Sheffield canal.

Technorati Tags: