THE EU was under fire last night for seeking a ban on plastic shopping bags to fight pollution.
Shops in Britain could be outlawed from stocking them, or alternatively there might be a new tax to dramatically reduce their use.
But angry retailers say any move would hit sales, while doing nothing to save the environment.
Richard Dodd of the British Retail Consortium said yesterday: “A Europe-wide ban on bags is unnecessary. It is likely to alienate customers from the green agenda, which is the opposite of what the European Union is trying to do. It is not appropriate for the EU to get involved.”
The average British family uses 12 plastic carriers for the weekly food shop, while 46 per cent take home up to 10 from each visit. A ban would require people to remember to take their own bags each time they go shopping. Unplanned trips will be almost wiped out as
The news comes as retail sales jumped by 1.1 per cent last month, the biggest rise in 23 months.
But experts warn that the retail sector’s growth is still extremely fragile. Banning plastic bags could set the recovery back by badly hitting consumer spending.
The EU Commission said each person in Europe used about 500 bags a year, and most of them were never re-used.
“Fifty years ago, the single-use plastic bag was almost unheard of.
“Now we use them for a few minutes and they pollute our environment for decades,” said EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.