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On a Saturday afternoon, I went to the city center of Norwich (UK) and I bought a birthday card for my friend. As an environmentalist (or at least I do what I can), I was happy to see that the British government has implemented a 5p fee on plastic bags in shops. In other terms, if you want a bag, you need to pay 5p instead of getting it for free.


The purpose is to reduce the amount of plastic bags that end up in oceans and kill dolfins and other mammals. It seems that in the next century, there could be more plastic in oceans than fish, which is a major issue for environment and for communities. Indeed, several communities are relying on fishing as an income-generating activity and those communities usually come from low income countries.

So could you imagine my disappointment when I got a small bag from Card factory even if I did not ask for it and I did not really need it just for a birthday card! This illustrates how innovative can companies be to avoid climate change tax.

  • First, Card factory gave me that bag to force me to take an advertising magazine for new services. Although this services were nice and appealing, it nevertheless pushed me to question why they did not ask whether I wanted it or make me pay the 5p?
  • Thanks to an article of The Independent, I learnt that the 5p law states that  » the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has confirmed that not charging for bags without handles complies with the regulations as they stand. ». Basically, remove the handles, get out of the tax.

In brief, Card factory do want us to take a plastic bag, which contaminates oceans and nature, for the only reason to promote additional services providing alternative and personal gifts.

Fortunately, it seems that British people are reducing their number of plastic bags, especially Tesco, whose bags rate decreased by 78% since October. I guess companies need to understand what is the rationale behind climate change taxes and avoid situations in which you have a firm providing bags against a tax regulating its consumption, in order to induce more consumption!


Why should we avoid palstic pollution? Read here what is the international response (in French): Combattre la pollution des océans (1): La réponse de la gouvernance internationale et nationale.


The Independent (2016), Card factory gets aroudn the 5p bag charge by cutting off handles, The Independent, URL: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/card-factory-gets-around-the-5p-bag-charge-by-cutting-off-handles-a6843456.html (Accessed 30th January 2016).

Credit image: The Independent