Plastic not so fantastic

English people are well known for loving a freebie and have said that they are going to protest about the charge by doing a full shop, putting it through the checkout, refusing to pay for bags and leaving the trolley full of shopping behind!1

Supermarkets are even bracing themselves for hundreds of thousands of metal baskets being stolen as shoppers carry their items out in these instead of bags.

But there is a reason for the expense.

Wales introduced the 5p charge on 1st October 2011 and it has helped reduce the single use carrier bag use by 71%.

Carrier bags are made of oil based plastic, a non-renewable resource, meaning that a bag can take up to 500-1000 years to decompose, and may not ever break-down. Many of these bags end up as litter with 86% of single use carrier bags end-up in landfill.2

Carrier bags coupled with other non-recyclable rubbish fill up our landfill resulting in situations like the waste site in the small village of Great Heck in North Yorkshire.

Just meters away from the villager’s homes is a 10,000 tonne site piled 50ft high with smouldering rubbish, which residents say omits a horrific smell, making them and their families ill. Children in the nearby school wear masks when playing outside and Sarah Webster who lives just 200 yards away from the tip has been advised by a consultant at hospital to get away from the area when her and her family were hospitalised after being gravelly unwell.

Sarah said: “(The tip) smells absolutely vile. It’s toxic and can often smell of burning plastic, which is a known carcinogenic. I’ve lived here all my life. Even if I was looking to move now to get away from this I couldn’t as it would be impossible to sell the property.”3

The tip was run by Wagstaff Total Waste Management Ltd but they have gone into liquidation leaving the rotting rubbish to fester and self-combust, which has been estimated at costing £1million to clear away.

The Environment Agency have made arrests but even with Selby MP Nigel Adams involved who knows how long it will take to eventually clear and at what cost to the residents health?

References

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/34443310/plastic-bag-charge-five-of-the-most-english-reactions

2. http://www.carrierbagchargewales.gov.uk/consumers/?lang=en

3. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3261667/Mother-says-children-ill-awful-pungent-smell-10-000-tonnes-smouldering-rubbish-left-rotting-tip-company-went-bust.html

This article was submitted to be published by Conveyancing Data Services as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

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