UK packaging groups blast anti-bag effort

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LONDON (Aug. 20, 11:15 a.m. ET) — The Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) and the Packaging and Films Association (Pafa) have attacked an anti-bag campaign for its “unfounded” environmental claims.

The industry bodies say that the “Break the Bag Habit” campaign, backed by Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society and the Council for the Protection of Rural England, is a cynical ploy aimed at justifying a bag tax, which would generate funds to fill a hole in charity income left by reduced government grants and falling public donations.

The four organizations that formed “Break the Bag Habit” have calling on the United Kingdom government to reduce litter and waste by requiring retailers to introduce a small charge on all single-use bags. In response, CBC and Pafa have written to all members of Parliament and major U.K. retailers pointing out the flaws in the latest campaign and urging them to stick to the voluntary code of practice.

“The rigorous Environment Agency Life Cycle Analysis (SC 030148) clearly demonstrates that alternatives to the lightweight plastic bag require far more of the earth’s precious resources to produce and have far higher impacts across a life cycle. We believe this new campaign is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts contained in this report and by targeting carrier bags diverts attention and resources from the macro- environmental issues we face,” the two industry bodies say in their joint letter.

“We are particularly surprised at the about turn from Keep Britain Tidy whose statistical surveys have constantly reinforced the insignificant impacts of carrier bags on the environment,” said Barry Turner Pafa CEO. “Why is Keep Britain Tidy targeting carrier bags when surveys show they represent just 0.03 percent of littered items in our environment?”

CBC Chairman Paul Marmot also condemned the “Break the Bag Habit” campaign: “Good environmental practice is about reducing impacts, reusing resources and recycling at the end of life.

“The plastic carrier bag offers all of these routes to becoming the most environmentally acceptable solution for carrying goods home because it has the lowest impacts in production and transportation, is re-used by around 80 percent of households and can easily be recycled using more than 5,000 collection points at our supermarkets” he said.