So, the Sustainability Committee publishes its' report, calling for a levy (not a ban) on plastic bags today. The report follows the scrutiny given to a petition raised by Neil Evans from Camarthenshire. You can read all about the report and the petition here.
It's good to see the petition system yielding a useful inquiry and hopefully a report that will suggest some workable ways to reduce the use of and the impact of plastic bags on our natural environment, on fossil fuel use and as an extremely irritating contributor to our waste streams.
Neil Evans, an officer from Carmarthenshire Council, explains his petition here , with a rallying cry to let a ban or levy on plastic bags signal a shift to world-leading action.
"Let us act decisively! I want to see Wales leading the way. I want us to be recognised as a country that has wholeheartedly embraced sustainability - not one that simply talks about it and then disregards the future for the more immediate economic interest. Lets do something to put us on the map!"
I tend to agree: Consumption related measures do get a lot of coverage, just think of Australia banning incandescent light bulbs. At the same time, I can't help feeling that in many countries plastic bags are already near non-existant because of different consumption patterns, market influences and even a sprinkling of common sense.
Thus, Wales is not taking a lead on sustainability if it bans or introduces a levy on plastic bags so as to limit their usage - it's just reversing a trend that hasn't proved particularly helpful for our environment. A levy on plastic bags would be a levy on a harmful and needless vice (much like alcohol or tobacco), not an innovative shift towards sustainable consumption.
I hope more radical shifts in our developmental approach will put Wales on the map over the coming weeks but welcome consideration of measures such as this for now. I think Obama has me dreaming about leadership on sustainability, so apolgies if I'm thinking bigger than plastic bags today.
Neil Evans also suggests that those interested in his petition go to google and search for 'plastic bags' and 'wildlife'. I'll save you the bother... Just click the here.