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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Bid to charge 10p per plastic bag
plastic bags
Councils would use money from the scheme to pay for recycling
Londoners will have to pay 10p for every plastic bag they are given in a supermarket if a new plan is supported.

The move is to reduce waste sent to landfill sites, and could lead to an eventual ban on plastic bags.

London's 33 boroughs aim to include the measure in a bill to be put to Parliament in November.

Merrick Cockell, Conservative leader of London Councils, said: "We need to be a bit more bold and ambitious about reducing waste."

Mr Cockell said the proposal would only apply to plastic bags given away in major supermarkets but he hoped it would eventually be expanded to cover all shops in London.

Ireland success

The plan follows a tax imposed on plastic bags in the Republic of Ireland since 2002.

"We have seen what happened in Ireland, where on average about 300 bags were being used per person. That has been reduced down to 21," Mr Cockell said.

"If we can have that sort of reduction in the number of bags then we won't have those bags in landfill or sitting festering around for up to 400 years as they currently do."

Any money recouped from supermarkets under the scheme would be used by councils to pay for recycling facilities.

"We are not after the money," said Mr Cockell. "If there is any money, that would be used for environmental projects.

"But we do not want the money, we want people to change their lifestyles."

New powers

A London Councils spokesman said the details of the proposal would be finalised in the summer but added that councils would need to be granted new powers in order to enforce the move.

"We would also seek cooperation from supermarkets in order to put this plan into action," he said.

A spokeswoman for supermarket chain Sainsbury's said they could not comment on the proposal as it had yet to be finalised.

"But we are trying to encourage the re-use of our plastic bags and we are always open to conversation as to how to tackle this issue," she said.

"Sainsbury's is committed to reducing carrier bag usage and helping our customers reduce their usage."

A proposed tax on plastic bags has had mixed reactions

Move to ban plastic bags in town
04 Jul 07 |  Cornwall
Shoppers face plastic bag tax
04 Mar 02 |  Europe

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