Plastic Bag Tax Update Early 2018 - A Zero Waste Future?

  • 7th January 2018

With the proliferation of Bag for Life usage since the 5p bag tax came into effect in 2015, we take a look at what progress has been made, potential smokescreens, and what more can be done to make our weekly shop more eco friendly. 

The initial introduction of the 5p bag tax in 2015 produced a mixed response, as to be expected from a change that affects the entire population directly. A couple of years later most people can agree that the bag tax is overall a step in the right direction with a reduction of nearly 6 billion bags a year! That's an astonishing 85% drop in the use of single-use plastic bags.

Single Use Carrier Bags

Do you miss plastic bags?

Fast forward to 2018 and the days of plastic bags routinely passing by in the wind seems a distant memory with consumers having adapted to the changes and embraced the mostly positive impact. The most common route for consumers nowadays is the use of the larger 'bag for life' made from non-woven polypropylene. Whilst these products are an improvement over the thinner plastic bags of the past, due to them being recycleable, it is important to remember that these products are not eco friendly, and for the most part, are not biodegradable. Not to mention that most supermarkets sell these plastic bags for 10p, which to most people is still not enough of an incentive to remember their Bag For Life.  

What is the next step?

Responsibility for making the changes needed to move towards zero waste falls heavily on the large supermarkets that dominate the UK's landscape. History shows that the big chains are reluctant to progress unless forced, either by consumer groups or by the law. From a consumers perspective, a better understanding is needed of the composition of each material used to create our shopping bags, along with an understanding of the 'afterlife' of a product. This transparency gives the consumer enough knowledge to make an informed decision about their shopping habits. 

At BIDBI we think that the future of our shopping bags lies in cotton and paper based materials and believe this can be achieved for the vast majority of our our needs. 

fruit in plastic containers

It's not just carrier bags that could where improvements could be made to the shopping experience. A move towards packaged fruits and vegetables in recent years has seen a sharp rise in the use of cellophane and plastics, which for the most part could be eradicated from shelves with relative ease. With some cellophane being biodegradable, more regulation would force manufacturers to use more eco friendly packaging products or encourage the move to no packaging. 

It is our belief that consumers will move from buying more to buying better quality, choosing products that nourish the planet rather than deplete it. Transparency is a prerequisite, but businesses will need to go one-step further and show their sustainable practices to the world.