Published On: Fri, Jul 29th, 2011

SUPERMARKETS were threatened with a 5p tax on plastic bags yesterday – for failing to cut back on their use. Read more:

Shock figures showed 6.8BILLION plastic bags were handed out last year – 333million up on


The Government is furious at stores’ failure to get customers to bring in their own carriers to protect the environment.

Recycling minister Lord Henley said: “This isn’t good enough. Retailers need to lift their game.”

He warned: “If results do not improve we will consider additional measures to make this happen, including legislation.” That could mean a 5p-a-bag tax, already due to be introduced in Wales in October.

But Bob Gordon, the British Retail Consortium’s environment spokesman, hit back, saying: “It’s time to accept bags are not the be all and end all of environmental issues.”

He said shops will still try to cut bag use but are concentrating on “more significant” issues such as energy use and waste.

The average number of bags each person used per month rose from 8.2 to 8.6 last year. It meant an extra 2,600 TONNES of rubbish for landfill sites.

Mr Gordon said plastic bag use dropped 40 per cent over the previous five years.

Last year’s surge may be down to more spontaneous trips to the shops. A BRC spokesman said: “We don’t believe legislation will achieve more.”

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