Dumb baggery

Now there’s a surprise:

Sales of “bags for life” rose to 1.5bn last year as the amount of plastic used by supermarkets increased to 900,000 tonnes, Greenpeace research has found.

Many supermarkets have stopped selling 5p single-use bags altogether in favour of stronger 10p bags, which are intended to be reused.

A study by the Environment Agency concluded that these plastic bags for life needed to be used at least four times to ensure they contributed less to climate change than the lighter, single-use bags.

Y’know, it might have been a good idea to have investigated the relative effects of different bags on the environment before lobbying idiotic politicians into passing laws banning the most useful and popular type. But as I like to point out, this is driven by emotions not rationality.

The Greenpeace and EIA research says that bag for life sales were cut by 90% in the Republic of Ireland by setting higher prices of 70 cents. The report recommends a charge of 70p or “ideally” a government ban.

The charge appears to be based on that of another country, only changing the currency without even bothering with exchange rates, let alone purchasing power. I suppose we should be grateful the unwashed clowns at Greenpeace didn’t take Venezuela as the test case. And what is everyone supposed to use to carry groceries if there is an outright ban on plastic bags? Re-purposed drawstrung elephant scrota?

The research also found that overall supermarket plastic use has risen to more than 900,000 tonnes in 2018, despite pledges by retailers to cut down on packaging.

The previous year, they used 886,000 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging.

The report found that supermarkets had slightly reduced the plastic from own-brand goods but that packaging from branded goods increased.

In other words, they’ve spent years hounding the wrong part of the supply chain. These are the people who wish to be in charge of a command and control economy.

Fiona Nicholls, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said: “Supermarkets are failing on plastics and failing their customers.

“We hear piecemeal supermarket announcements on plastic every other week, but in reality they are putting more plastic on the shelves than ever.”

These supermarkets are failing their customers in the same way coke dealers are failing London property developers.

Only Tesco has given suppliers an ultimatum to cut plastic use or see their products removed from the shelves.

Perhaps their management are not happy with the pace at which they are losing market share and wish it to quicken?

Waitrose was ranked top for cutting its packaging and trying out refill stations for products such as coffee, rice, pasta, wine and detergent.

The Waitrose near me in St. Katherine Docks serves coffee in porcelain cups, but doesn’t let you leave with them. In other words, it’s a cafe serving people who have time to loaf around in the middle of the day drinking coffee. And we’re back to London property developers again. Meanwhile, nobody seems concerned about the amount of plastic used in women’s makeup:

I wonder why that is?


16 thoughts on “Dumb baggery

  1. 900,000 tonnes.

    Big scary number.

    It’s an increase of 1.6%. Higher sales would cover that. We’re not told how that rate of increase compares to any prior period.

    Yeah, Greenpeace can fuck off and die in the gutter.

  2. Maybe net migration pushed up the numbers a bit. If the revenue from the bags was used to mitigate the negative externalities (a proper Pigou tax), rather than give it to any old charities then there would be nothing to complain about.

  3. The amount of plastic waste generated by department stores is mind-boggling. Oftentimes every piece of clothing coming out of the cartons is wrapped in plastic and on a plastic hanger. Most times the hanger is thrown out after the sale.

    Your weekly shopping trip to the supermarket does not come close to having the impact these stores have. Elaborate cosmetic displays are thrown out after a few months. Having worked at a department store, I could go on and on. They’re focusing on the wrong side of the retail industry.

  4. In a rational world, we would burn plastic waste and use the heat to generate electricity. Even with all the smoke stack treatment that would be required to remove nasties, it would still generate some net power and allow backing out some Russian gas.

    In this world, we are instead more environmentally conscious. We ship the plastic waste on CO2-spewing oil-burning ships half way round the world to China, so that the Chinese can dump most of it into the Yangtse and watch it drift out to sea.

    But boy! Do our masters feel good about themselves, saving Gaia.

  5. Gavin

    That’s my latest campaign. Here in Bilbao we have a state-of-the-art incinerator where all the collected rubbish goes.


    I used to work with them and they complained about not having enough rubbish to burn. The next province bordering France, is too left-wing to have an incinerator so they send it here. Pure hypocritical Nimbyism…

    I put all the plastic in the rubbish and have the satisfaction of knowing that I have given a double use to the hydrocarbons involved and that they have gone to plastic heaven generating electriciteeee for us!

    My campaign is currently in-house. My wife understands the logic but can’t change the mindset. Damn progressives!

    Oh and Zabalgarbi won’t come out in public to say that we should bin our plastics and not try to ‘recycle’. Damn progressives….

  6. I’m just glad we didn’t get a post about kidney harvesters posing as 32-year-old Russian women looking for a western husband.

    Keeping our fingers crossed for you, Tim!

  7. The lifestyle of my supermarket bags consists consists of being used to carry groceries home, then being filled with rubbish and thrown in the dumpster. Two uses, I suppose, but I used thinner, single use bags in the same way. The consequence of all these rules is that I am now using higher quality, presemably more environmentally damaging bags for this, and that I am paying 10p (or 15p in Asda) a time. Not sure this is progress, other than for the people making money on the 15p bags.

  8. That is exactly how I use the bags. A rather pricey bin bag.
    The Asda bags have a tendency to rip along where the handles are attached, sometimes when just separating the two sides. Rubbish.

    The Asda nappies we buy have changed the packaging to use less plastic. The main difference is that the carrying handle has been removed, which means that I have to buy an extra 15p bag to carry them in.

  9. Sainsburys have really screwed up by removing the single use really thin disposable bags for putting loose fruit and veg in. I am just never ever going to use one of their reusable mesh things. Complete nonsense and zero utility elsewhere unlike the actual strong bags for life which are actually brilliant for wellies and stuff.

    Waitrose have got this right: they have replaced their loose veg bags with ones that you can use in your food recycling caddy. That’s actually a really great idea – expect JS to follow suit quite soon.

    15p soft, slightly thicker placcy bag – bag for life my arse. It’s just an expensive, slightly worse single use plastic.

  10. Since they replace damaged bags, it has occurred to me to empty my rubbish from the bag into the bin and then take the dirty bag back for a replacement. I’ll make sure it absolutely stinks.

  11. An incredibly stupid moral panic. Plastic supermarket bags from the UK account for some infinitesimal percentage of plastic waste in the ocean. It makes no difference to the planet what type of bags that Tesco hands out.

  12. Well done for highlighting cosmetics, Tim. Which are generally mostly packaging containing a few grams of ludicrously expensive product produced at a cost of virtually zero. But as Mark points out above, women are seduced by packaging. The more & fancier it is the more they’re likely to buy it. Not saying I’m in the slightest bothered about the plastic. It’s the multitudinous pots, tubes & bottles clutter every shelf & cupboard in the bathroom. Why do we need 17 varieties of hair shampoo? It’s not as if it’s her hair. Her hair’s barely shoulder length. The rest’s hair extensions get changed every couple months in an orgy of half empty coffee cups & wine glasses & gossip.

  13. WRT cosmetics and plastic/oil consumption, you’ve really got my noggin joggin Tim. We on Team Sane should be pushing a complete and total ban of cosmetics. The hilarity of getting such a campaign off the ground would be glorious. Getting past the standard firewalls would be pretty easy:

    “That’s sexist!” – Makeup is an artifact of Patriarchy forcing women to emphasize their appearance for the male gaze. [cite 10,000 articles from feminists saying the same]

    “That’s racist!” – Look how white (spits) the makeup counter is, with practically every product designed for Becky. [cite 10,000 articles from race hustlers saying the same]

    “That’s homophobic” – No, but it is rather trans-phobic, so we’ll have a legislative exception for men identifying as women.

    Smash The White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy AND save the planet! You think the internecine battle between TERFs and Trans-Fems is fun to watch wait until you see ardent envirofems take on literally every other woman on the planet!

  14. “ Since they replace damaged bags, it has occurred to me to empty my rubbish from the bag into the bin and then take the dirty bag back for a replacement. I’ll make sure it absolutely stinks.”

    Yes, that’s really sticking it to the minimum wage earners who made the decision to change the bag policy.

  15. Fortunately my part of the U.S. has yet to adopt such silly laws. I get my single-use grocery bags for free! Don’t have to sort my garbage either, though there are places in my state where that’s apparently required, but I avoid them.

  16. “That is exactly how I use the bags. A rather pricey bin bag”
    When the original ban on flimsy, single use bags came in, I bought 500 plain white ones from a local packaging supplier. Exactly the same size as the ones Sainsbury’s were giving out, and I use them if just purchasing a few items (they easily fit in my jacket pocket) and as bin liners. For this purpose they are actually cheaper than the specific bags (and if I had bought 1,000 instead), appreciably so. The carrying handles can then be used to tie them up when full.

    As for “the law of unintended consequences” – what about the recent admission that scrapping car tax discs has not given the result that was expected:
    I doubt that anyone outside of government thought this was going to work, just like the plastic bag ban…

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