Barry Turner, chief executive of the Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), has expressed disappointment that disputed figures on litter and miscalculations of carbon impacts had a clear influence on Government and public perceptions of the effects of bag taxes
“We are disappointed that disputed litter figures and wildly inaccurate calculations on bag impacts are still influencing people’s views. We also believe that if we are to suffer a carrier bag tax, the monies should be used to boost recycling and to educate consumers. These are missed opportunities for supporting the UK recycling industry and changing habits on littering,” he said.
PAFA said there were flaws in DEFRA’s calculation of the CO2 impacts of bags, and supported the comments of Joan Walley MP, Chair of the Committee, regarding what she called “a glaring mistake” in which DEFRA had originally said that the effects of bag reduction would be the equivalent of taking 1.7 – 2.7 million cars off UK roads, when the correct figures were actually 32,000 – 43,000 cars.
Turner also reiterated industry’s long-held view that littering is an anti-social behaviour which requires education and information in order to change people’s habits.
David Newman, president of International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) and director of CIC (Italian Composting Consortium), said ISWA appreciated the committee’s point that a catch-all charge is the most effective way to reduce total bag usage.
However, he added: “It failed to note an exemption for home compostable bags would help significantly reduce food waste going to landfill. In addition, I remain concerned that this report has not undertaken assessment of the true percentage of plastic bags recycled in the UK, and Europe as a whole. We hope the committee will recognise the dual purpose of certified compostable bags when it reviews the Government’s waste strategy.”
A spokesman for the Renewable Energy Assurance said the bags are produced from renewable resources such as maize starch or Polylactic acid (PLA) and replace scarce and expensive polyolefin derived materials from the supply chain.
“When used in the collection of organic wastes these bags reduce the need for harsh cleaning chemicals, protect the health of the workforce and return their valuable constituent materials to the horticultural cycle. Increasing the use of these bags cannot cause harm to the environment.”