by Dave Visick

Retailers face increasing pressure to stop issuing free single-use plastic bags after the launch of a national media campaign calling for them to be banned.

The Daily Mail's 'Banish the Bags' campaign uses images of animals trapped in plastic and scenes of abandoned bags to illustrate its call to "rid Britain of one of the great unnecessary pollutants of the modern world - the ubiquitous supermarket carrier bag".
However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested he prefers the introduction of a mandatory levy to a ban, with retailers giving the proceeds to environmental causes.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said that a ban would disadvantage convenience retailers. "It would disproportionately affect the impulse buys which are particularly important to convenience stores" he said.
"We are in favour of voluntary measures and we are open to discussion with the government on ideas such as the introduction of a levy."
Many retailers, including both independents and multiples, have signed up to a Defra agreement to reduce the impact of plastic bags by 25% before the end of the year.
Marks & Spencer stole a march on its competitors with the announcement that it intends to charge customers 5p for bags from May, with proceeds going to a regeneration charity - a move it says could reduce plastic bag demand by 70%.
The Co-op is trialling the use of compostable bags and Tesco has announced plans to reduce its bag use through customer incentives.
In Ireland, use of plastic bags is said to have dropped by 90% since the introduction of a tax, currently 16p per bag, in 2002.
For more on the plastic bag debate, see next issue. If you are part of a local plastic bag-reduction scheme e-mail
uk, or call Amy on 01293 610222.