The PACT Resources and Waste action group has been campaigning since 2009 to reduce plastic bag use in Penrith, primarily concentrating on single use carrier bags
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) are calling on the Government to reduce litter and waste by requiring retailers to introduce a small levy on all single-use bags.
Over the past two years, the number of carrier bags used in England has increased despite repeated Government calls for retailers to reduce the numbers they give out.
PACT's Chris Cant used the e-activist link to write to his MP and the local paper, the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. Read his letter.
The latest figures show a 5% rise in plastic bag use. PACT's Chris Cant asked his MP Rory Stewart to press Lord Henley to introduce a charge in England as he had said the rise was unacceptable.
Lord Henley said that "If the results do not improve we consider additional measures, including legislation".
At the PACT First Steps meeting on 19th October 2008, the Resources and Waste action group was formed. We brainstormed to find three top do-able priorities for our first actions. Top of our list was going "Plastic Bag Free".
We launched our campaign publicly on 2nd June 2009 at an evening meeting at Eden Rural Foyer. We also launched our snazzy cotton reusable bag, featuring a punny strapline "PACT - but not in plastic" on one side and "Purchased in Penrith" on the other.
The fairtrade organic cotton bags were purchased by Eden District Council to show support for the cause.
On 11th July 2009, the PACT Plastic Bag Free Penrith team surveyed shoppers at a stall in the town centre.
- 334 shoppers questioned
- 98% were aware of the problems caused by plastic carrier bags
- 87% generally take their own reusable bag when out shopping
- 42% supported a total ban on plastic bags being given out by Penrith shops
- 38% preferred the idea of a charge for bags
- 22% chose the option of a reduction in bags being given out but no charge.
During early 2010, a significant number of Penrith traders were surveyed on their current use of plastic bags and whether they would support further moves to reduce their usage.
- 110 retailers surveyed
- 71% had tried limiting disposable bags, including shops who don’t use plastic bags at all some who charge for all plastic bags supplied, others who use biodegradable bags or alternative “bags for life”
- Many shops ask customers if they really need a disposable bag before offering one.
- Many shopkeepers also noticed their customers were increasingly bringing their own bags, and encouraged them to do so.
- 70% of retailers were prepared to take part in a campaign to limit or replace disposable plastic bags
48% of retailers felt there were already realistic alternatives available for their businesses
- 37% felt the options needed further research.
Bag Swap and Petition to the House of Commons
On 2nd October 2010, the Plastic Bag Free Penrith team took to the streets again, setting up a Bag Swap stall to swap shoppers plastic bags for a new PACT cotton bag. We gave away all our bags...
We also asked shopper to sign a petition to the House of Commons calling for a charge to be introduced in England on single use plastic carrier bags. Almost 500 signatures were collected on the day, with more collected later; the petition will be handed in by our MP Rory Stewart.
To the House of Commons. The petition of supporters of Penrith Action for Community
Transition (PACT) in Penrith, Cumbria
Declares that the petitioners wish to see a significant reduction in the issuing of plastic
carrier bags by retailers through the introduction of a compulsory charge, as in the case
of Wales where a charge of 7p per bag is to be in place from spring 2011.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to
introduce the compulsory charge on the issuing of single use carrier bags in England, for
which it has the power under section 77 (and Schedule 6) of the Climate Change Act
9/3/11: The government response to the petition is attached below. It includes the following text
The Government is working towards a zero-waste economy.
The Government are currently undertaking a review of all waste policy and the issue of single-use carrier bags will be included in this. This is expected to report in May.
The Resources and Waste Plastic Bag Free Penrith team are planning the next stage of our campaign - getting grant funding from various sources to make cotton bags available widely throughout Penrith through traders. Read the project proposal for 2011.
List of links to press coverage of the Plastic Bag Free Penrith campaign.
Please sign the petition to make the London 2010 Olympics Plastic Bag Free.