Libraries urged to rethink on new plastic bag giveaway on eve of new Bag Tax
Birmingham Friends of the Earth has urged Birmingham Library Service to rethink proposals to introduce new, free carrier bags to give away with its library books – just as a new plastic bag tax is being proposed.

The Library service have entered into an agreement to produce [at least] 100, 000 "promotional" bags over two years.Within a couple of years the bags will nearly all be either coming out of an incinerator chimney as polluting chemicals, or on a landfill site. As the bags are not even biodegradable they will then still be adding to the waste mountain in hundreds of years' time.

The deal is badly timed to coincide with government proposals for a tax on plastic bags to reduce litter and pollution. FOE has welcomed this proposal. The move would mirror a similar scheme introduced in Ireland which has seen a dramatic fall in the number of plastic bags being wasted.

However, Friends of the Earth warned that tackling the problem of plastic bags would only be a drop in the ocean. The Government must deal with the waste crisis with doorstep recycling collection schemes for every household.

Even if the tax does not come into force in these two years, Birmingham residents will be paying for these bags in waste disposal and litter clearing costs.

Andy Pryke of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said:

"The Library service are taking a big step backwards in having these wasteful bags produced on the eve of the new tax proposal. Every extra piece of rubbish we create is another nail in the coffin of sustainability, and takes us further down the road to incinerators."

Mike Childs, Recycling Campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:

"Introducing a tax would be a welcome move which would make people think twice about taking unnecessary plastic bags."

Editor's Notes

[1] A selection of Recycling Rates for Municipal Waste in Europe and North America (year):

Switzerland 52 % (1998)
Austria 49.7% (2000)
Germany 48 % (1996)
Netherlands 46% (1998)
Norway 40% (2000)
Sweden 34% (1997)
USA 31.5% (1998)
Finland 30 % (1997)
Denmark 31% (1996)
Canada 29% (1997)
Spain 20% (1997)
Italy 13% (1997)
France 12 % (1993)
England 12% (2000/01)
Scotland 6.9% (2000/01)
N Ireland 5% (1998/9)
Wales 4.7% (1998/9)