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UK Energy Saving Looks Back Over a Year of Change in the Lives of Free Plastic Bags

11-27-2007 01:53 PM CET | Energy & Environment

Press release from: UK Energy Saving

Earlier this month all 33 London Councils voted for legislation to prevent the free distribution of plastic bags in the city, a decision which comes towards the end of a year of significant change for shopping as we know it. In recent years it has become the expected norm to receive plastic bags free of charge whether in the supermarket, on the high street or at the local corner shop, but that tide is turning as consumers become conscious of the negative environmental impact this has. UK Energy Saving has therefore taken a look back over the past year and charted some of the key changes along the way.

The consumer website,, has reported on many events relating to plastic bags use on its blog,, and there have certainly been some significant changes from both consumer and corporate viewpoints. Before 2007 began, Tesco was already rewarding customers who reused plastic bags with green clubcard points, and in April of this year Sainsbury’s decided to offer their reusable plastic bags free of charge for one day only, in place of their usual carrier bags. Offers like these are steps forward for supermarkets, which are amongst the biggest culprits for the number of plastic bags distributed, but it has been consumers who have really started to make a difference.

At the end of April, photographer Rebecca Hosking led the town of Modbury in Devon to outlaw plastic bags completely. Every trader in the town agreed to sell different types of bag, and there are now approximately 80 other small towns throughout the UK which have or are in the process of following suit. A few months after this landmark shift in attitude, Green England launched a petition for a 10p tax on plastic bags, which was presented to the government with 10,000 signatures in September. The government has not yet acted on this and seems to be against imposing a tax, but charging for carrier bags is starting to happen in some locations. Marks & Spencer, for example, announced in November that they would be charging for bags in the South West of England following a successful trial in Northern Ireland.

All of these events, culminating so far in the London decision to outlaw free plastic bags, will perhaps make 2007 a key year in the move away from a practice which poses a number of environmental problems, not least the use of oil in their production and the landfill space required for their disposal. Hayley Jones, Marketing Director for, comments on the changes of the past year. “The prolific use of plastic carrier bags has become a sign of our throw-away lifestyle, with little regard to the environmental impact this has. Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning with regards to free plastic bags, with more people opting for reusable bags and shops and local authorities starting to take note. The government now needs to make a stand on this subject and take into account the fact that consumers are not averse to change in this area, but are actually ready to do their bit for the sake of the environment.”

UK Energy Saving
Web Marketing Director - Hayley Jones

UK Energy Saving is a consumer information resource covering energy saving, renewable energy and related topics.

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