Hope everyone has survived 'Chaos Monday'.
Today saw the introduction of a 5p charge for plastic bags at the supermarket, which has caused panic across England, according to the newspapers this morning, (although the charges are already in place across Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland with no apocalypse sighted).
The charge, although small, is intended to reduce the waste caused by plastic carrier bags, many of which end up in landfill sites or litter the countryside. We used over 7 BILLION bags in England last year, and since charges were introduced in Wales the number of bags used has decreased by 71% - so it obviously works!
Of course, when the bags were free we all took a few 'extra ones' for those little jobs at home where they were always handy, and we never had to remember to take a bag with us the next time we went shopping.
The 5p tax is a very simple idea in action - but here's how it starts to get complicated:
Free carriers will continue to be supplied when you are buying uncooked meat, poultry or fish; prescription medicines, fresh products like flowers or vegetables, and unwrapped ready-to-eat foods.
Be careful because if you place your 'normal' shopping in with your 'exempt' uncooked meat then you will have to pay for the bag. I presume you can do this once you have left the shop!
*On a serious note, this is because carrier bags used with uncooked produce can contain bugs such as salmonella which can be transmitted to your food next time you use the carrier bag. Remember to follow this rule: keep uncooked foods separate and don't re-use these bags for your shopping.
Charges only apply to retailers with more than 250 employees, so your local High Street shop can still provide free bags, if they wish.
The good news is that Sainsbury's, Morrisons and ASDA reported that life has continued as normal in their shops, and the new measures have been applied without any problems.
Hopefully some of the money raised will be used to fund other environmental or recycling projects in areas local to the store.
Photo by Philip Halling (CC BY-SA 2.0)