Media Release: E&I asked to ‘be bold’ and enforce a ban on plastic carrier bags

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Media Release: E&I asked to ‘be bold’ and enforce a ban on plastic carrier bags

A petition started by Plastic Free Guernsey titled ‘Ban plastic carrier bags in Guernsey’ has gained more than 6,300 signatures. The charity is now requesting The Committee for Environment & Infrastructure introduce a ban on all plastic carrier bags.

The petition and accompanying letter were handed over to E&I President Barry Brehaut on 14 November.

Mads Norman, co-vice-chair of Plastic Free Guernsey, said: “As a small Island we have the potential to set a precedent and be leaders in the fight against unnecessary plastics. We are requesting a ban on all plastic carrier bags on Island, whether they be classed as single use, or ‘bags for life’ – we all know that the useful lifespan of these bags is anything but life.”

“We are not requesting a switch to stores providing paper or fabric bags, but a push to encourage Islanders to bring their own reusable bags. If we want to portray ourselves as an Island leading on sustainability, we need to change our habits accordingly.”

Plastic Free Guernsey advised that although they are active within the community in terms of promoting and encouraging alternatives to single use plastic, this was their first step towards encouraging a change in legislation. 

The charity also confirmed that they believe a ban of this nature is in line with E&I’s purpose: To protect and enhance the natural and physical environment and develop infrastructure in ways which are balanced and sustainable in order that present and future generations can live in a community which is clean, vibrant and prosperous.

We have received some questions about how we envisage the proposed ban on plastic bags would work, so we’ll explain in more detail here:

Q: What about the plastic carrier bags I already own; will they be banned? 

A: No! We want to stop any more new plastic bags from making their way into circulation – there are enough! We would encourage everyone to reuse any bags they have until they cannot be reused any more, and then either recycle if possible, or dispose of safely into the bin. This is happening in other countries and Guernsey should join the list! 

Q: I reuse my bags for life, why do you want to ban those too? 

A: Great! This is how they are supposed to be used so keep doing what you are doing, but many people continue to buy bags for life as they are still reasonably inexpensive and convenient, and they aren’t realistically going to see you through for for life. 

Q: What if I forget my bag and there aren’t any at the shop?

A: Depending on the amount you have bought, it might be possible to employ some juggling skills to make it back to the office/car/home, you could empty a larger shop into the car straight from your trolley/basket, or you could ask the supermarket if they have a box available. Much of the produce comes delivered in cardboard boxes and these used to be readily available for customers to reuse. We’d love to see a return to this kind of shopping!

Q: What about the bags to carry fruit and veg at the shop?

A: We would include these in the ban, as there are so many washable and reusable alternatives available. It’s easy to up-cycle old t-shirts or tea towels into produce bags, and there are also lots of bags available to buy, some of which are made out of recycled plastic bottles which will last a lot longer than the flimsy bags available in the veg aisles. 

Q: Why don’t we suggest paper or cloth bags to be provided by the shops? 

A: The message we want to spread is about long-term sustainability, and reusing is the only real way to achieve that. Paper and cloth bags carry their own carbon footprint, comprised of the raw materials to produce them (felling trees or growing cotton, a thirsty crop) and the carbon used to ship them around the world (they are heavier than plastic bags). So whilst they seem a better choice, and they are in terms of recycling/composting possibilities at the end of their life, you have to use them an awful lot before they are a truly carbon-neutral alternative. No doubt you have a few cloth bags in your possession, so remembering to bring them with you is the gold standard! It’s lovely seeing all the branded bags out there but we need to ask ourselves if we really need any more! 

Q: What is a sustainable alternative to new paper or cloth bags? 

A: Have you been to one of our Boomerang Bag workshops? You can up-cycle old fabrics to give them a new lease of life as bags! 

We hope this clears up any grey areas and we will keep you posted on the progress of our petition to the States of Guernsey. 

If you do have any more questions, please comment below! 

Author: Plastic Free

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