Apparently Nick Smith is touting the idea of charging 5c a plastic bag to try and encourage people to use more eco bags. Let me say at the outset, that I use reusable bags all the time. I find that their handles are much easier on the hands, the bags are stronger and, contrary to some observations, they are packed just as fast at the checkout, as long as you have enough of them.
Having said that, I still think that Nick Smith’s idea is terrible.
- I remain unconvinced that eco bags are any better for the environment than plastic bags. Whale Oil has the data on this.
- The people most likely not to buy eco bags are the very poor. They will now be hit by a “bag tax”. They will pay because the 50c added on to their weekly bill is less than the $20 up front for 10 eco bags.
- The money will go straight to the bottom line of supermarkets. Of course, you could insist that this money is paid into an “eco bag fund” to further subsidise eco bags for low-income earners. The administration of this would be a nightmare, either for government or for supermarkets.
- Why only supermarkets? I would think that most clothing shops would be delighted to charge you 5c for a bag with their logo all over it. But they won’t unless the government “bullies them into it”.
- What happens when you only need one bag? Many people do not use eftpos. We no longer have a 5c coin in circulation. Will it be legal to waive the fee due to rounding? Will the shop have to charge 10c and supply an extra (empty) plastic bag thereby totally destroying the environmental point?
I realise National tend to take a hit when it comes to the environment. It is not their strong point. But this is a dumb, ill-conceived idea that should be put down to Nick Smith’s fevered imagination.
And will somebody PLEASE sit on his head…