By Will Date
Liberal Democrat party activists have voted at their Autumn conference in Brighton in favour of a motion that will see the party support a levy on single-use plastic carrier bags in England.
The proposed levy on plastic bags would see a 10p charge imposed for each carrier bag used, with the funds raised going to community food projects.
Councillor Justine McGuinness who chaired the conference session on Sunday (September 23) at which the party approved the plans, said she had formerly been opposed to a levy on carrier bags, but had changed her mind on the policy after seeing its effects in Ireland.
She said: “When you go to southern Ireland, where they have a plastic bag tax levy, you don’t see plastic bags floating around in hedgerows and you don’t see people just using them once because, of course, there is plastic bag levy. It has changed people’s behaviour.
“For me that is a sign of a very good policy indeed. In fact, seeing what has happened in southern Ireland has helped changed my own behaviour so I would urge you to support this motion because it is a policy that will effect change.”
Supporters of the levy say that England is falling behind the devolved British governments, after Wales introduced a minimum five pence charge per bag in October 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story), while Northern Ireland is set to introduce the levy from April 2013.
The Scottish Government has also taken steps to introduce bag levy north of the border, and launched a three month consultation on the plans in June 2012.
Support for the introduction of a bag levy is mounting as the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Break the Bag Habit campaign backed by groups including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), and Keep Britain Tidy have announced that they will be lobbying government on the policy in recent months (see letsrecycle.com story).
The Liberal Democrats also approved a motion that would bring England in line with waste policies in Wales and Scotland by setting a date for banning food waste from landfill.
The party wants to see a ban on disposal of biodegradable waste to landfill by 2015, and hopes that this could spark an increase in the number of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities that are in operation across the UK.