Friday, 2 October 2015

How the plastic bag charges could improve our recycling

With charges being introduced for plastic bags, residents are being encouraged to investigate other ways to carry their shopping.

With major retailers getting ready to introduce a 5p charge for each carrier bag they issue – residents are being reminded of how they can best carry their shopping.

From Monday 5 October, retailers with more than 250 employees must start charging the 5p levy to help reduce the amount of plastic bags which end of in landfill or litter the countryside.

RECAP has promoted reusable bags for many years and is encouraging people to start to reuse bags or use more durable ‘bags for life’ when they are shopping.

Local Councils are also hoping the charge will help to stop people using plastic bags (including the bio degradable bags) to wrap their food waste which is then being put into the food and garden waste bin.

Plastic or biodegradable bags cannot break down in the process the council uses to treat the food and garden waste and this means some of the material that could have been made into useful compost ends up in landfill, costing the council over £200K a year.

Cllr Roger Hickford, Chairman of RECAP, said: “Last year, British supermarkets gave out more than 7.6billion plastic bags to shoppers – which equates to 140 bags per person or 61,000 tonnes in total. This is a truly staggering number and despite the best efforts of some people to recycle and reuse these bags, councils across the county find them littering streets, parks or put into the wrong recycling bin.

“With the introduction by the Government of the 5p plastic bag levy, we hope people will think very carefully about what they do. For example, we have found plastics bags in the food and garden collection bins which contaminate the compost we create. Over 23,000 thousand tonnes a year of compost can be made which is then used on farmer's fields for crops or by Cambridgeshire residents on their gardens. But things like plastic bags cannot break down in our process which means some of the material must be rejected. . The best thing that people can do is buy the durable ‘bags for life’ which can be used again and again. If you do choose to use plastic bags then make sure you recycle them in the right bin.”

For more information go to