eBay

Hint: It has to do with a new tax.

Head to the Internet right now—do not wait!!!—to purchase a single Tesco plastic bag, roughly 11 years old, from eBay seller gome602013. Is it possible this bloke, based in England, is selling a vintage, branded grocery bag for £1.99 ($3.05) because 2004 was an excellent year for plastics? It is possible. But gome602013 is just one of a number of British online sellers offering bags for less-than-bargain prices, and the timing doesn’t seem to be an accident. England’s plastic bag tax kicked in October 5.

England is the last country in the UK to institute a tax on plastic bags. The English are now are charged 5p (about $.08) per bag acquired at a store or chain with 250 or more employees (with exemptions). The BBC reports that retailers are expected to donate the levy “to good causes”; the government believes that they will raise more than $1.1 billion in the next ten years. In return, England is expected nearly $100 million in litter cleaning costs, and $20 million in carbon savings.

Peppy British Liberal Democrats push for plastic bag reform in 2008. (Flickr/Liberal Democrats)

So some Brits have taken to eBay. One seller offers “a variety of carrier bags,” 20 in total, for £0.75. “Mostly Tesco bags so you know you'll get at least 5 shops out of [them], maybe more,” the seller writes. “I once heard that some guy in Edinburgh got 16 shops out of some Tesco carrier bags,” the seller continues, helpfully.

Another “Beat the Charge” special offers 100 plastic bags for £2.50. And one jokester is selling “5 random plastic bags” at a bargain £1,000. “[M]ay contain traces of nuts and the odd receipt,” the seller writes. “[I]f you are lucky you may get a bag within a bag—it's like bagception.”

(eBay)

It’s all in good fun, probably, but the English (and Americans?) should get it straight: Plastic bags are a big problem. In 2014, researchers performed 600 video and trawl surveys in European waters and came, as CityLab’s own John Metcalfe wrote, “to the depressing conclusion that the trash is everywhere, from the deepest to shallowest points, to near-coast shelves and regions as remote as the Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone.” (This is quite literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.) Plastics choke wildlife, clog storm drains, and get caught in trees.

Taxes have proven, again and again, to reduce the number of plastic bags used by consumers. A 5p tax in nearby Wales led to a 71 percent reduction in use over four years. Recent data from Washington, D.C., shows the American capital’s $0.05 tax reduced plastic bag usage by more than 50 percent.

(Flickr/Alex

Advice to the long-suffering English: Splurge for a few reusable bags. You will probably get more than “16 shops” out of one, and you may also save the world. Worse comes to worse, you’ll have too many.

H/t Kobini

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Uber Eats worker
    Life

    The Millennial Urban Lifestyle Is About to Get More Expensive

    As WeWork crashes and Uber bleeds cash, the consumer-tech gold rush may be coming to an end.

  4. Design

    Charles Jencks and the Architecture of Compassion

    The celebrated architectural theorist, who died this week, left a down-to-earth legacy: thoughtfully designed buildings and landscapes for people with cancer.

  5. James Mueller (left) talks to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right)
    Equity

    South Bend’s Mayoral Election Could Decide More than Pete Buttigieg's Replacement

    Pete Buttigieg's former chief of staff, James Mueller, is vying with a Republican challenger to be the next mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

×