The concept of the plastic bag levy is to be supported, as is any measure that reduces our reliance on disposable petro-chemical plastic. Outside of raising tax revenue however, the actual impact on litter & the environment will unfortunately be minimal because plastic bags comprise less than 1% of litter.
There WILL be a 80%+ reduction in plastic bag use simply because of the levy cost, but there are other eco-friendly alteratives such as EN13432 compostable bags made from plant matter (starch) to address the bags we NEED to buy when we shop without pre-planning. In the draft legislation, a % of petrochemical plastic bags is tolerated because it raises money, I'd rather be forced to buy a compostable one at the same price.
If "The primary objective of the Committee is to ensure that all measures proposed by DOE are focused solely on the objective of reducing environmental impact" then, instead of being singled out as a levy target, compostables could leverage the remaining plastic bags off our shelves. Please visit www.caseforcompostables.com for much more info on this whole topic.
Exempting plastic food wrapping makes no sense because food packaging is a more significant & likely cause of visual litter, particulary take away food; we should be legislating that all 'disposable' packaging should have a lifespan to match the organic shelflife of the product that it contains. Why place a 3 day sandwich in a 500 year box? Low purchase cost can no longer be sufficient excuse.
We also need to consider that under the EU Landfill directive we need to reduce our proportion of municipal waste going to landfill from 55% to 50% by 2013 and to 35% by 2020. It is a huge, unnecessary and shameful waste. A large proportion of the waste that we will need to divert is organic and has much of its potential 'energy' remaining. Specifically we need to be collecting our valuable food waste & composting it to generate income or converting it into fuel, not burying it, just for ratepayers to pay a tax of £64/tonne.
Instead, if we replace our plastic shopping bags with compostable bags, we have a ready supply of EN13432 food waste collection bags for our caddy, tie the top and the whole lot goes straight into the green/brown bin, no smells, no flies, saves the council & the ratepayer money - ask the councils, they do it already! Why are we taxing this environmental alternative that is helping us meet our EU landfill targets?...
I support the levy but ask you to please consider starting to tackle the wider packaging context through the leverage potential provided by the legislation and not focus simply on the low hanging revenue fruit.