This is not a plastic bag

By: 
January 29, 2016


Belgian artist René Magritte's famous painting, Ceci n'est pas une pipe ( This is not a pipe , as it is popularly known, although the actual title of the painting is The Treachery of Images ), made an artistic statement about representation and reality. The Card Factory, a UK greeting card retailer, has a more legalistic perspective in mind, when it claims that the pictured plastic bag is, in fact, not one because it lacks handles and is therefore not subject to the 5 pence bag tax.

card-factory-bag
Image courtesy @Apriltheband/Twitter.

A plastic bag fee was instituted in England in October 2015, bringing it in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where stores had been charging consumers for single-use bags. However, the law defines the single-use bag as a thin-gauge product with handles. So, a clever Trevor over at the Card Factory figured that the company could offer its bags for free simply by lopping off the handles.

A spokesperson for the Card Factory told trade journal PRW 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."

The Guardian reports that Tesco has reported a 78% fall in the use of plastic bags at its stores since the tax went into effect. In Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the use of plastic bags has decined by more than 90% since the levies were implemented. There have also been reports of thousands of bags being stolen by shoppers, adds the Guardian.

You have to wonder if our own homegrown legal eagles have looked closely at the bag bans in effect across the United States. Without getting into the ethics of it all, finding a loophole is certain to get you loads of free publicity. Just ask the Card Factory.

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