As of 1 January 2016, free plastic bags, the thin ones given out by shops and markets, are illegal. We get it: there’s plastic bags in our seas and forests and it has to stop. However, there are exceptions, as my local baker can still give me a thin plastic bag with my bread. The exceptions have to do with food that otherwise couldn’t be reasonably protected like bread, fresh fruit and vegetables or raw fish. Sealed plastic bags at airport tax-free shops and in the plane remain legally free as well.
For quite some time the Dutch have been used to carrying around plastic shopping bags or cloth ones for buying food, and no fuss is made about having to pay around 0.10 euro for a good one at supermarkets. In October 2015 shops in the UK had to stop dispensing free thin bags and now charge 5p (0.06 euro) for one, something that you’ll hear British people complain about a lot. Exceptions in the UK are pretty much the same as here. Recap: the UK pays 0.06 euro for the crappy thin ones, while for 0.10 we can get one that’s three-four times the size, way thicker and actually reusable.
Instead of getting rid of the next to useless thin bags in the UK and replace them with good ones, charging for something that wasn’t quality in the first place is a bit odd. If you read these stories though, you’d think paying 5p was equal to giving away your first born.
Time to start carrying the big ones around like we do and stop the plastic soup. Simples.
In 2014 an Amsterdam district decided to ban disposable plastic bags, and once again the world didn’t end.
(Link: www.rijksoverheid.nl, Photo by Kate ter Haar, some rights reserved)
Tags: plastic bags, UK
There is something in the air, a certain je ne sais quoi that brings the UK and the Netherlands together in odd ways lately. British newspaper The Guardian is busy investigating and publishing information about big UK businesses that avoid taxes by setting up shop in Amsterdam.
One of these companies is Diageo, which owns brands like Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff. According to The Guardian, Diageo cut its tax bill by £ 100 mln (about 1,109,285.00 mln euro) by moving its profits to a subsidiary located near the Amsterdam Sloterdijk train station – at least on paper. The paper has announced that it will reveal information on another internationally renowned corporation that set up shop in Amsterdam to evade taxes. The investigated schemes are presumed to be legal. Apparently some 20,000 companies on paper are “located” in Amsterdam, and that this tax gap would equal the income taxes paid by 20,000 ordinary British households.
On the flip side, Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant talks about Dutch Princess Christina who lives in London and gladly makes use of the ‘Guernsey route’, which is perfectly legal, to ‘park’ her money. She has placed her assets on the British isle of Guernsey to avoid paying taxes, or as the Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (the Royal family’s PR agency) poetically puts it, “because she is very careful about managing her fortune.”
Tit for tat?
(Links: nieuwsuitamsterdam.nl, De Volkskrant)
Tags: Amsterdam, Guernsey, Princess Christina, tax shelter, The Guardian, UK, Volkskrant