Friday, December 23, 2005

Cheap, plentiful, harmful Part II

I forgot to mention in my last post that retailers and supermarkets in UK have been up in arms about a EU proposal that seeks to stop China from "dumping" cheap plastic bags here. See article here.

The article also tells us that every year an estimated 17.5 BILLION plastic bags are given away by supermarkets, equivalent to about 290 bags for every person in the UK."

Well, I don't collect 290 bags a year, and neither does my husband nor my son. So someone else must be collecting our 290 x 3 bags every year.

We are also told that "The average plastic bag made in China costs between 1p and 2p, although fancy bags used by fashion shops could cost double that. A retailer such as Marks & Spencer might use 200 million bags every year."

The retailers are afraid that a tariff on these bags from China would increase their overheads. This proposed tariff has come about because "30 EU manufacturers complained that Asian competitors were selling bags for export more cheaply than they were sold on their domestic markets."

It did not come about because EU manufacturers are concerned with the health and safety issues surrounding the manufacture of such bags in China, or fair trade, or ethical trade. The proposed tariff is solely protectionist (ie selfish).

Then, look at this piece of news I had missed earlier this month: "Plastic bag tax dropped by MSPs". The Scottish Parliament, or part of it, were more concerned about "the potential for job losses in the plastic bag industry". Again, it's jobs (ie votes) before the environment.

We are told "there was strong opposition among Labour MSPs who saw the proposed levy as a tax on the poor".

How could it be a tax on the poor when it could well mean that "poor people" (which ever way you choose to define it) will now think twice about shopping on an impulse because they don't want to be paying 10 pence for a plastic bag?

If they don't have to worry about that 10 pence, they cannot be that poor. If they are that poor, they should not be impulse buying.

For the rest of us, there is something called "Bring your own bag".

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