The Government is preening itself over the apparent success of the iniquitous plastic bag tax, imposed on us here in England since last October. According to figures released by Defra this week seven major retailers who issued over seven billion single use carrier bags in 2014 have issued just over half a billion in the first six months of the tax’s introduction. Spontaneous shoppers who have paid the 5p tax have contributed £29 million to good causes.
So is it really good news? BDO High Street Sales Tracker has revealed that in June like for like sales dropped by 3.6%, making it the worst June figure in a decade and the fifth month in succession to return negative figures this year. Fewer people are visiting shopping centres, foot fall dropping by 0.9% in the first week in June and by a massive 5.1% in the last week of the month. On the other hand, non-store purchases increased by 15.8%, itself a drop on a like for like basis, but evidence that people are buying on line rather than in a store and then having the hassle of carrying their goods away.
The much vaunted impact on reducing plastic pollution in the seas is surely chimerical. Britain is an island and tides bring plastic from other countries to our coastline. Isolated action by one country without reciprocal action from others will have little impact in the long run. Oh, and LDPE plastic bag recyclers, PlasRecycle, have just gone into administration.
Is that Pyrrhus I see on the horizon?