Azara Blog: BBC journalists hate plastic bags

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Date published: 2009/07/17

The BBC says:

Efforts to cut by half the number of plastic carrier bags supermarkets give their customers have narrowly failed.

Last year seven supermarkets signed up to the voluntary scheme which aimed for a 50% cut in bags given out compared to figures recorded for 2006.

However figures suggest 346m fewer carrier bags are being used every month than they were in 2006.

Plastic bags harm the environment because they take a long time to decompose and can endanger wildlife.

In May 2006, 718m bags were being given out but by May 2009 this had almost halved to 372m, which amounts to a reduction of 48%.
...
The British Retail Consortium believes consumer behaviour has now changed, helped by supermarkets giving out free re-usable bags and awarding loyalty points to customers who bring their own bags.

As a result, some environmentalists are now calling for a charge of up to 15 pence for each disposable carrier bag.

This is a terrible piece of hacky journalism. So the headline on the story is "Retailers miss plastic bag target" which is a distortion of what happened. This distortion would have been partly mitigated by the first paragraph of the story were it not for the cynical use of the word "failed". So the BBC could have said that "efforts ... have narrowly been missed". Even that is really missing the point of what happened. So the fact that the use of plastic bags has (near enough) halved in a few years is pretty remarkable. Especially since it was a voluntary target. But the BBC instead had to plug "failure".

The BBC then trots out the trite comment that "plastic bags harm the environment because they take a long time to decompose and can endanger wildlife". Well pretty much all human activities "harm the environment" directly or indirectly (including pretty much all of the BBC activities) so what is it about plastic bags that deserves special mention? Well, it's just that the academic middle class control freaks (chief cheerleader, the BBC) hate plastic bags. But the amount of environmental damage they do (at least in the UK) is insignificant compared to many other things, and certainly compared with the amount of attention the academic middle class give to the issue.

The BBC also has the nerve to claim that "as a result, some environmentalists are now calling for a charge of up to 15 pence for each disposable carrier bag". But so-called environmentalists have always been calling for a charge for "disposable carrier bags". It has nothing to do, or not to do, with this "result". Indeed, if anything it is perfectly obvious that the "result" supports the exact opposite of what the BBC has written. So-called environmentalists hate the "consumer" society and they just use plastic bags (amongst other things) as a proxy hate figure for this. This is what is really behind the interminable academic middle class anti-plastic-bag hysteria. It's all rather pathetic.

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