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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 11:53 GMT
'High price' of carrier bag use
Carrier bags
Carrier bags take hundreds of years to degrade
Shoppers in County Durham are being urged to be more environmentally friendly by re-using carrier bags.

The move is the latest effort by Durham County Council to solve the problems caused by supermarkets giving them away for free.

It is estimated more than 65 million carrier bags are thrown away in the county every year, with many ending up in landfill sites where they take many years to degrade.

Earlier this year the council found 70% of people were in favour of paying for carrier bags so they would be re-used more often.

But now the council wants supermarkets to scrap carrier bag taxation, and teach people to re-use them instead.

Pollution problems

Councillor Joe Armstrong said that while plastic carrier bags were cheap and convenient, they carried a high price in terms of environmental sustainability.

He said: "We've all seen discarded plastic carrier bags stuck in trees and hedges, railing and fences and floating down rivers and streams and even blowing around in mid-air during windy days.

"But the hidden cost to the environmental is even greater and quite surprising.

"The number of plastic shopping bags entering the waste cycle in County Durham every year weighs almost 650 tonnes, all of which has to be dumped in landfill sites at a cost in landfill tax alone of around 20,000.

"The pollution problems from the bags then lasts for generations.

"If people were to reuse plastic shopping bags instead of picking up new ones every time they visit the shops and supermarkets, they could reduce consumption and waste."

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