London falling behind the rest of Europe behind on green efforts

Other capitals lead the way as England stalls

England is falling behind in implementing green policies, and is being overtaken by other countries as a leader in environmental awareness.

That’s the stark warning from a leading British waste management company which is dismayed at repeated delays to good sense green policies while European neighbours forge ahead.

According to the company, at least two countries will overtake English plans to implement a charge on single-use plastic bags, with one high-profile mayor promising a complete ban.

“It’s quite clear that while our politicians drag their feet, their colleagues across the continent are pressing on regardless,” spokesperson Mark Hall says.

Hall notes that England is already playing catch-up with the rest of the United Kingdom, with a plastic ban surcharge, with some of the most enlightened waste laws already a reality thanks to the Scottish government.

  • A plastic bag surcharge in not expected in England until at least October 2015, and even then small businesses (such as your local corner shop) will be exempt.
  • The much-delayed regulations come as UK government figures say that 8billion single-use bags are issued every year. That’s an average of 120 per person.

“Compare this to France”, says Hall. “They’ve voted to ban single-use plastic bags completely from supermarkets by 2016.
“A ban is end-to-end green thinking. A surcharge could be seen by cynics as a money-raising exercise in a country that is already taxed up to its eyeballs.”

  • On top of the French supermarket ban, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced that the city is to ban single use sacs plastiques altogether. This is part of a raft of green policies which include a ban on older, more polluting cars, and the encouragement of smog-fighting roof gardens.
  • In Israel, legislation is working its way through the Knesset which would eliminate plastic bags, while giving out free reusable alternatives through coupons attached to householders’ utility bills.

“Israel’s in an elegant solution that invests in alternatives while enforcing a surcharge followed by a ban,” says Hall, “But that’s nothing compared to Denmark, where they’ve been on top of the problem for a decade.

“The average Dane uses four plastic bags per year. Four.”

According to, these moves amply illustrate foot-dragging by officials in England, who only acted after long-running campaigns in the press and by many in the waste management industry.

“It’s taken years for Whitehall to even acknowledge there’s a problem that needs addressing,” says Hall, “and now we are far, far behind – not just on supermarket plastic bags but on other environmental targets as well.”

The company is calling on ministers and officials to speed up implementation of environmental policies which would save British businesses millions of pounds in the long term.

“We should be at the forefront of this battle,” ‘s Mark Hall says, “But once again, we’re the sick man of Europe.”