Green Party politician says 5p fee on plastic bags should be extended to EVERY outlet

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A Green Party politician in Northampton has criticised the Government for going back on its word over the 5p charge on plastic bags which comes into effect today.

Tony Clarke, who is the party’s spokesman on foreign affairs and stood for election in Northampton North,

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The 5p charge applies to shops employing more than 250 employees but Mr Clarke said the rule should have been introduced to all outlets, no matter how small they are.

“If plastic bags are bad, they are bad irrespective of the size of the retailer that sells them,” he said.

“The Government u-turns on every environmental policy it makes and this is a classic example of that.

“There are many good businesses that are being responsible and they should be rewarding but it is not about punishing the rest, it is about making people aware.”

But Mr Clarke said the introduction of a fee was the only way to change behaviour.

“If customers realise they are going to have to pay, it is the only way to get people to change their ways.

“You only have to look at the number of people who are using reusable bags now to know that it has had an impact. But there will always be those who are so conscious and think nothing of paying extra and damaging the environment,” he added.

The Green Party in Northampton has been running a campaign for the last 18 months to give away environmentally bags that highlight some key facts about the dangers of plastic bags.

Some of the statistics include:

* One trillion is the number of plastic bags produced worldwide in one year

* The time taken for one bag to fully degrade is 1,000 years

* 3.5 million tonnes is the net weight of plastic bags discarded in a year

* 100,000 marine animals killed each year as a result of plastic bag pollution

* 46,000 is the number of plastic bags in a square mile in the ocean.

* 4.3 billion gallons of crude oil used in the production of plastic bags