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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 July 2007, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Plastic bag ban wins popular vote
Plastic bags (generic)
Retailers are looking at ways of limiting the use of plastic bags
Banning plastic bags is the clear winner with people asked to vote on policies they would like taken up by the Welsh Assembly Government.

BBC Wales' initiative, If I Ruled Wales invited people to submit ideas which they wanted to be brought in as law.

A shortlist of three ideas, suggested by the public via email, phone and post, then attracted 500 votes.

The findings will be handed over as a petition to the assembly presiding officer as a first stage.

Banning plastic bags attracted more than half the vote, over banning the smacking of children and creating a new body to oversee search and rescue services.

To have a chance of becoming law, the proposal now has to go to the new assembly petitions committee, which will decide where it goes for further discussion at Cardiff Bay.

At the same time, the assembly government is trying to acquire the powers to pass laws in environmental areas.

Sustainability minister Jane Davidson said she welcomed the outcome and added that she personally supported the ban.

Alwyn Evans
I don't think that most retailers, the average butcher and baker, can afford paper
Alwyn Evans, packaging manufacturer

Ms Davidson said: "The banning of plastic bags is an issue I raised last month at the assembly when I announced that we were seeking powers to help make Wales a greener, cleaner place.

"These new powers would allow the assembly to consider a ban on plastic bags."

The Legislative Competence Order (LCO) seeking powers in environmental protection and waste management was published on 18 June.

This would allow the assembly to consider a ban on plastic bags, should it receive the backing of members.

According to the environmental group Friends of the Earth, eight billion plastic carrier bags are handed out in the UK annually.

It also said that Wales has one of the worst recycling records in Europe and that the "throwaway society had left a legacy of badly managed landfill sites."

However the director of a packaging company in Cardiff, which distributes around two million plastic bags a month, said the ban would not lower carbon emissions.

View of the Senedd from the public chamber
If I Ruled Wales will put forward the petition for AMs to consider

"If you transport 100,000 paper bags, it takes a whole trailer. To transport 100,000 polythene bags, it's one pallet," said Alwyn Evans, of William Jones Packaging Ltd.

"The biggest problem with polythene bags is the disposal. You can put them into landfill sites but they're so tightly compacted, even if they're degradable, they don't break down.

"All polythene can be recycled. It can be used for garden benches, bollards, street furniture. There's no reason why it shouldn't be used again."

Mr Evans added: "I don't think that most retailers, the average butcher and baker, can afford paper.

"If we can use more re-useable bags which we do sell as well, I think that is the better answer."

Some supermarkets and retailers are currently reviewing ways of limiting use of non-degradable bags.

Tesco has started a so-called "naked deliveries" service, allowing customers to receive ordered goods without bags.

Shoppers in Ireland have been charged for bags since 2002, a move which has significantly cut their usage but proposals to introduce a similar scheme in Scotland were rejected.

Traders urged to axe plastic bags
24 May 07 |  Gloucestershire
Move to ban plastic bags in town
04 Jul 07 |  Cornwall

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