Waste advisors to the Government have today warned against a tax on plastic bags on the basis that it could have a detrimental effect on the environment.
Experts have suggested that a ban or levy on plastic bags would actually lead to much greater volumes of plastic being used because people would need more bin liners and rubbish sacks.
Research by the Government-funded Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that a levy on plastic bags in Ireland only made matters worse.
WRAP believes that advocates of a tax, such as the 33 London boroughs, have underestimated how many plastic bags are used currently to put out recycling or as substitutes for plastic bin bags.
A levy on plastic would also be likely to mean a switch towards paper which uses more energy in production and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, when they degrade in landfill, according to WRAP.
Liz Goodwin, WRAP's chief executive, warned: "You have to decide which problem you are trying to deal with, litter or the volume of plastic used. We have got to remember that taxes and levies can have perverse effects - such as making people use more plastic rather than less.
"Our focus should be on reducing environmental impacts of the bags by making them lighter or out of recycled content."
by Charles Clover, Environment Editor Daily Telegraph