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Plastic bags

THERE will be plenty of plastic being flashed across Rodeo Drive shops counters this month, as per, but don't expect to get any back with your bling.

A New Year ban has come into force in Los Angeles making it illegal for big stores to distribute disposable bags; good for the planet, it seems.Customers will be required to bring their own or pay a 10-cent fee for each paper bag requested.

Businesses that flout the ban will face a fine of $100 after the first violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third, with fines for each day violations continue. Both the Scottish and UK Governments have announced plans to introduce blanket charges in the next two years.

While it's simple enough to carry one of those fold-away types in handbags and manbags, most of us (myself included) are still guiltily shoving our pints of milk into plastic. Figures show that, despite a small, initial reduction in consumption, the past two years have seen a sharp rise in the use of throwaway bags - to a shocking seven billion a year.

Many are used for only 20 minutes but take up to 1000 years to rot away. It's a sobering thought. Between times they litter the landscape and kill marine animals and birds, which suffer long, painful deaths after eating or being tangled in them.

A few major retailers are charging for plastic but new legislation forcing shops to introduce charges will come into force in Scotland in October, with similar plans south of the Border in 2015. Figures show there has been a staggering 90% drop in their usage in Wales since it was introduced in November 2011.

Money from the new charges will be handed to charities that deal with the impact of the bags on the environment and wildlife. Some retailers are charging for bigger plastic bags but they might want to extend this to the smaller variety.

On a recent visit to Marks & Spencer, with no bag of my own, I bought a 5p one. The cashier then proceeded to put my two tangerines, coleslaw and packaged fish into separate little plastic bags, the ones that may not cost a penny but don't come guilt-free. When I told her there was no need, she looked embarrassed and replied, "I was just being polite." Of course, I felt bad and shuffled off with my four bags.

If supermarkets are serious about conservation they may want to think about this. I'd happily accept a little less customer service for more karma points.

Contextual targeting label: 
Environment

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