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Actor Jeremy Irons debates plastics trade group leader on bag taxes

By: Don Loepp

March 8, 2013

How would you like to debate an Oscar-winning actor -- on television? That's a daunting assignment to be sure, even for someone who's comfortable dealing with with the media.

But a plastics industry leader got that tough duty yesterday, when actor Jeremy Irons debated Peter Davis, director-general of the British Plastics Federation, on Channel 4 News.

The topic: Plastic bag taxes and dealing with plastic waste.

As our sister publication Plastics & Rubber Weekly reported, Irons has made a film entitled "Trash," which includes looking at the impact of plastic waste on environments around the world.

The actor argued for a plastic bag tax to be introduced into England, citing what he called the success of the levy imposed in Ireland, where he said consumption of bags had fallen by 95 percent.

Davis argued that such a charge would be counterproductive and pointed to how companies recycled plastic waste, particularly bottles.

Irons also called for better coordination of waste collection practices by local authorities.

I'm impressed that Davis got to share the spotlight in this report, and he handled the pressure pretty well. Several times both the interviewer and Irons interrupt Davis while he's trying to make a point.

But rather than argue, Davis worked hard to answer their questions while at the same time trying to complete his thought.

It must have been tough concentrating with Uncle Scar putting the heat on plastics. (I know, citing a Disney cartoon may not be highlighting Iron's best work, but that Scar voice just sticks in my head every time I hear it).

The fact that the bag debate is getting this much attention in the United Kingdom is further proof that this is a global issue -- and one that the industry is going to be dealing with for some time.