Azara Blog: The Lib Dems (surprise) don't like plastic bags

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Date published: 2007/09/19

The BBC says:

Lib Dem activists have called on the leadership to consider introducing a "plastic bag tax" despite warnings that it could drive up carbon emissions.

Party leaders had wanted a deposit scheme, with customers charged for disposable shopping bags and refunded when they are returned.

But members backed an amendment calling for consideration of a levy on plastic bags, as used in Ireland since 2002.

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said packaging cost the average family £470 a year.

She claimed research showed that using bags made from materials other than plastic could lead to more carbon emissions.

A container which could transport 1.5 million plastic bags, could only carry just over 50,000 paper bags, which would push up road haulage emissions.

However, a deposit scheme, rather than penalising shoppers for using plastic bags, would encourage their reuse, she said.

How quaint. One of the big issues of the Lib Dem conference is plastic bags, one of the perennial hate figures of the academic middle class. At least Swinson pointed out that the anti-plastic-bag hysteria is not necessarily even justified on environmental grounds (and she completely ignored the re-use issue, namely that plastic bags can be re-used more easily than paper ones). But to claim that "packaging cost the average family £470 a year" is just to take some arbitrary estimate of what packaging actually costs to make (and never trust an estimate made by people with an axe to grind), and ignoring all the benefits that packaging provides (e.g. food does not go off so easily), which translates into cost savings. The Lib Dems really are way too academic, they need to get out into the real world a bit more often.

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