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Despite their invaluable role in bringing shopping home and for various tasks around the house, thin plastic carrier bags are often perceived as an iconic symbol of a modern ‘throwaway’ society. They are also believed to represent a high proportion of litter, and to pose a threat to marine life. Few of these negative views are supported by evidence.
Carrier Bag A major study conducted by the UK Environment Agency concluded that thin plastic carrier bags cause less damage to the environment than any other kind of bag.

To justify the introduction of a tax on thin carrier bags politicians often say that plastic bags will take decades or more to degrade in landfills, without apparently realising that this is a good thing. It is the degradable materials that are a problem in landfill sites because they give off greenhouse gases as they degrade.

A DEFRA/WRAP study IPSOS MORI in 2007 showed that 80% of households reuse their plastic carrier bags at least once  - to line bins, wrap used nappies or other waste, or to clean up after pets. And if people didn’t re-use thin carrier bags, they’d have to buy new plastic bags for those tasks.


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