10p Plastic Bag Charge: A baby step for a big problem
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In October 2015, a 5p levy on plastic bags was introduced for all major retailers in England. Three years later, Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has outlined plans to double the charge to 10p and apply it to stores of all sizes. This is will not be implemented until 2020. Yes, you read that right. The idea that the 10p charge is enough to make a substantial difference is symptomatic of the culture that ‘every little helps’ when it comes to combatting climate change and pollution. From meat-free Mondays to reusable coffee cups, it is easy to feel assured that one is doing enough by doing the minimum. While I would never berate someone for being proud of their KeepCup, the dire situation our planet is in means that we will need a lot more than just a 10p charge on a plastic bag in order to reverse, or at least lessen, the damage that has been already been done. Let's cut to the chase; selling plastic bags is unnecessary. The 5p charge, implemented in 2015, has no doubt decreased our use of plastic bags – at least 85% according to multiple reports – and so I cannot undermine the effects of the charge. The 10p charge could be seen as an addition to these positive effects, even if it’s coming far too late. However, our planet does not have time for such small baby steps. Just as with single-use coffee cups, plastic bags should either be banned or made a truly obscene price in order to become a true deterrent. I know if I had to dig deep and pay £1.50 for a bag or a single-use coffee cup, being prepared for such an occasion would be pushed to the forefront of my mind. These minimal changes are simply not enough and seem like an attempt at appeasing those concerned about the environment with a minor change. We need more. After all, the shock of enacting real environmental change will be less jarring than the shock of realising the earth is irreversibly doomed.
Image Credit: International Journal of Environmental Problems
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