The campaign's been an enormous success, with stores like Asda and Marks & Spencer cutting the number of bags offered to shoppers, or starting to charge people for them as an incentive not to take so many. Gordon Brown, a man who knows a popular movement when he sees one and is always more than happy to jump on board, particularly when it won't cost him any money, announced he would force supermarkets to start charging for bags if they didn't do it voluntarily.
Today's Times has come up with a magnificent spoiler. It turns out that concern about plastic bags is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims. Plastic bags aren't the weapon of mass destruction for marine animals and birds the Mail says they are. One figure often quoted by campaigners is that plastic bags kill 100,000 marine mammals annually. This figure apparently comes from a Canadian study which found that 100,000 mammals and birds were being killed a year by things like discarded fishing nets. The phrase the study used was `plastic debris.' The study was quoted fifteen years later in a report by the Australian Government, and the phrase `plastic debris' was erroneously changed to `plastic bags.'
Now, I'm as pleased as anyone else that there will be less plastic bags. As you'll see from this Mail article, the damn things get everywhere (the second photo, incidentally, is outside our local Tesco.) But I wish the Mail would at least get the science right.