Page last updated at 06:02 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 07:02 UK

Purge on 'one trip' carrier bags

Man carrying plastic bags
A voluntary agreement to cut plastic bag use is already in place

A campaign is under way to get people in Wales to reduce the number of plastic bags which are used just once.

An estimated 480 million carrier bags are used in Wales each year and it takes between 500 and 1,000 years for them to degrade.

Environment Minister Jane Davidson said people were more aware than ever of the issue, but she said: "We simply cannot go on like this."

Keep Wales Tidy welcomed the Get Carried Away bilingual campaign.

In February, the Welsh Assembly Government became the first administration in the UK to start work on legislation to end the use of free single use plastic bags.

The assembly government supports the British Retail Consortium's (BRC) efforts to reduce the numbers of these bag, but says it wants Wales to go a step further.

Plastic bag facts
UK consumers took home an estimated 9.9bn carrier bags in 2008, equivalent to 400 bags per household.
Wales used around 480m bags last year.
Plastic bags account for 2.7% of litter by weight (Keep Wales Tidy survey figures).
The estimated cost of removing this specific litter is £1m annually. All litter removal costs Wales annually £37m
Plastic bags account for 2.1% of all litter found on beaches. Source: Welsh Assembly Government

Ms Davidson said: "As a minister I have always stated that I do not support the use of one-trip plastic bags.

"I have asked my department to develop legislation to end the use of single use carrier bags."

She said there is a voluntary agreement in place under which certain retailers have agreed to reduce the number of these bags by 50%.

This was a "good target", the minister said.

"But this does not cover all retailers and still leaves 50% using one trip plastic bags.


"I recognise we need to give the retail sector a chance to demonstrate what they can do voluntarily, but I am willing to use all the powers at our disposal."

The Get Carried Away campaign will be supported by radio adverts and a website aimed at both consumers and retailers.

The first 1,000 who register with the site will receive a reusable bag. Hundreds have registered already, according to the assembly government.

Keep Wales Tidy chief executive Tegryn Jones said: "We welcome the initiative that will lead to the single use of plastic bags coming to an end.

"Our surveys show that plastic bags account for 2.7% of litter by weight. We should all strive to create a clean, safe and tidy Wales."

Angharad Griffiths, sustainability expert at Consumer Focus Wales, said: 'Reducing the amount of waste we produce is an important consideration for consumers in terms of living in a more sustainable way.

"Remembering to take a reusable bag with you when you go shopping is one way of starting to do that, and we would urge supermarkets to play their part by continuing to promote bags for life to consumers - making them both accessible and affordable."

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