Supermarkets bin plastic bags – Green or Greed?

plastic bagsI see that many of the big European supermarkets are now gearing up to stop issuing plastic bags in their stores throughout the EU. This can only be a good thing, and about bloody time too!

Their various spokespersons are saying that the object is to raise people’s awareness of the importance of “re-using, recycling and reducing the consumption of plastic bags which are only used once”.   

Some of them have now, in the name of the environment, introduced the “new bio-degradable plastic bag”. Well excuse me if I don’t applaud, but why are they now charging their customers one or two cents for each of these new bags?

Now, one cent is not much, you may think, but in Spain the consumption of plastic bags is said to average 238 per person per year. With a population of roughly 40 million, that makes 9.5 billion bags a year – a huge market to be exploited in the name of the “environment”.

Do the maths: at 1 cent a bag I make that €95 million a year that the Spanish supermarkets are coining in so that we can all have an easier conscience.

Ok, let’s assume that, of those 40 million people, 10% stick with the 1 cent bio bag and 90% of them go for the newly-introduced “environmentally-friendly re-usable shopping bag”. These generally cost around 50 cents each, and you’ll need two or three of them. Admittedly, they will last much longer and are infinitely re-usable, so let’s say that, as an average, each of the eco-conscious 75% buys two bags and these bags last a year, which they won’t, but let’s do it anyway.

That’s 4 million people who are spending around €9.5 million a year, and 36 million people who are spending €36 million a year. Which equals €45.5 MILLION a year extra gross income on bags, which used to be free, for just the Spanish supermarkets! At those sort of figures I’d be the most evangelical eco-warrior on the planet, wouldn’t you?

I’m all for cleaning up our environment and the planet in any way we can, but why does anything with the title “green” or “organic” or “environmentally friendly” have to come with a price tag to the poor consumer?

Plus, if the supermarkets are so “concerned” about the pollution caused by their plastic, what are they going to do about the millions of polystyrene trays and the miles of clingfilm they throw at us every single day?

So, are the supermarkets getting greener? Or greedier? What do you think?

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