English town bans plastic bags
Story Highlights• Modbury has declared a bag amnesty, allowing people to hand in plastic bags
• Response to ban has been "really positive," says resident who conceived of idea
• Last month San Francisco became first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags
• Worldwatch Institute: 100 billion plastic bags are discarded annually in U.S. alone
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LONDON, England (AP) -- A small town in southwest Britain is banning plastic bags in a bid to help the environment and cut waste -- a move environmentalists believe is a first for Europe.
Shopkeepers in Modbury, population 1,500, agreed to stop giving out disposable plastic bags to customers on Saturday. They said paper sacks and cloth carrier bags would be offered instead.
Last month, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags.
Internationally, legislation to discourage plastic bag use has been passed in parts of South Africa, Ireland and Taiwan, where authorities either tax shoppers who use them or impose fees on companies that distribute them. Bangladesh already bans them, as do at least 30 remote Alaskan villages.
Modbury, about 225 miles southwest of London, has also declared a bag amnesty, allowing residents to hand in plastic bags that have piled up at home. They will be sent for recycling.
The Modbury ban was the idea of Rebecca Hosking, a local resident who saw the effect of bags on marine life while working in the Pacific as a wildlife camerawoman.
She said response in the town so far had been "really positive."
"Modbury's quite an old-fashioned town and a lot of people have wicker baskets to go out shopping anyway," Hosking told Sky News television.
The Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research agency, estimates that 100 billion plastic bags are discarded each year in the United States alone. More than 500 billion are used annually around the world.