Blog: Dean BestBinning bags is a waste of effort

Dean Best | 19 November 2007

Gordon Brown announced today (19 November) that he is to meet with UK supermarkets to discuss ways to cut the use of disposable carrier bags.

A decent cause but there are better ones for the Prime Minister to champion if he serious about cutting waste.

Reducing carrier bag usage resonates with many in the UK and just last week, the body that represents the London’s local authorities called for a ban on free disposable plastic bags in the city. 

However, carrier bags represent a tiny fraction of the waste sent to landfill and calls for a ban are just “greenstanding” – pandering to perceived concerns among consumers by advocating an action that would have a minimal impact on the environment.

The Prime Minister should focus attention on food packaging, which accounts for a far greater proportion of the waste sent to refill. Government-backed schemes like WRAP have played a critical role in getting the UK's largest grocers and food producers to commit to cutting waste but more needs to be done.

More of the UK’s food producers should be encouraged to sign up to the Courtauld Commitment – a pledge to cut the amount of waste reaching UK homes by 5% in three years.

In the UK, households dispose of 30m tonnes of rubbish a year. Some 6.7m tonnes of that is estimated to be food waste. And it’s there, rather than on bags, where the real issue is.


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