Transition LangportMore than 90 per cent of shoppers want to rid an historic Somerset town of plastic carrier bags, according to a survey.

The finding comes as Northern Ireland this week [Monday 8 April] joined Wales in forcing retailers to charge for single use plastic bags.

The survey of 150 people in Langport, Somerset, found 131 supported a campaign to make the town plastic bag free.

“I don’t like plastic bags flying about the place,” said one shopper in the survey conducted by Transition Langport.

The shoppers poll also found that 78 per cent of those questioned tried their best to carry a re-useable bag when out shopping.

Of those interviewed, more than 75 per cent said they shopped in the town at least several times a week.

Transition Langport spokesperson Lynn Glenister said the time had come for government to take action on the rampant use of plastic bags in England.

“Northern Ireland has followed Wales’s example. Scotland is about to do the same. How long will it take for common sense to arrive in England?” she said.

Latest nationwide figures show English shoppers took home 7.5 per cent more plastic bags in 2011 than in 2010. UK supermarkets alone dished out eight billion plastic bags in 2011, about 250 bags per second.

Transition Langport urges shoppers to put pressure on government minister David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome, by sending a pre-written letter available on the group’s website, calling for immediate action.

Replies from Mr Heath to letters already sent by town residents suggest the minister for agriculture remains non-commital on the issue, preferring a wait and see approach.

“We will balance the benefits of any change with the real but avoidable effect on household budgets to ensure that we get the right option,” he said in copy of a parliamentary debate held in October 2012 that came with one reply.

The Northern Ireland Executive introduced the 5p bag levy after pilot studies reported a dramatic fall in plastic bag use.

Proceeds from the new bag charge will go to Northern Ireland’s Department of the Environment “to help community and voluntary organisations, businesses, schools and charities improve the environment”.

Unofficial figures from retail groups in Wales report a 90 per cent fall in plastic bag use since the Welsh Assembly introduced a 5p charge in 2011.

The Republic of Ireland government introduced a 9p charge in 2002 while Italy banned plastic bags altogether in 2011.

Two months ago [February 2013], Transition Langport, in partnership with Tesco supermarket, introduced a plastic bag recycling point in the town.

The Langport store receives up to 17,000 visitors a week, most of which leave with at least one plastic bag.

Earlier in the year, the group hosted two screenings of documentary film Bag It (2010), which highlights the detrimental impact of single use plastic items, such as bags, bottles and food packaging, on marine ecology.

According to the European Commission, which plans to legislate on this issue later in the year, plastic bags account for the majority of plastic waste polluting European coastal waters.

For more information on Transition Langport’s campaign to reduce plastic bags and other events, visit the group’s website at


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