Charge is on to make cash from plastic bags

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Still smarting over the 5p plastic bag charge? Try to view it as less a tax and more an investment opportunity.

The levy, introduced in England in October, has resulted in an almost 80 per cent drop in the number of bags taken home by supermarket shoppers. Similar reductions in use were seen in Scotland following the charge being introduced a year earlier.

However, reusing bags has had a more surprising consequence with ‘classic’ items becoming sought-after fashion accessories. Online auction sites such eBay have become a trading ground with some exchanging hands for way above their face value (which, to be fair, was originally £0.00).

But a bag can be more than just a means to carry your latest purchase - it’s an extension of your personality, particularly if brand loyalty is part of your makeup. Take Apple. Take an apple. Much safer than waving your iPhone 6 around in public or getting mugged for your watch is the option of a humble homage to the consumerist philosophy of Steve Jobs - even if it contains a Samsung, or your lunch. Classic Apple-branded bags are usually opaque, and crop up on eBay for more than a fiver - but still less than the cost of an iPad.

Similarly, although perhaps appealing to a different market, there’s the gold JD sports bag - a brightly coloured plastic drawstring carrier which sells for around £6 on eBay.

And Arsenal fans were presented with commemorative plastic bags at a Champions League match against Bayern Munich, with instructions to hold the white carrier aloft. Since then, the bags have become sought-after, going for a fiver, around the same price as a copy of the match programme.

Of course, the line between carrier and fashion accessory has long been blurred with Adidas and Nike-emblazoned sports holdalls being aped by the likes of D&G and Mulberry in their rather more upmarket version of the shopping bag.

But on a more serious note, up to a trillion bags per year are used worldwide, doing immeasurable damage to the environment. However, among the nominees for Design of the Year at London’s Design Museum was The Ocean Cleanup - a network of floating barriers which uses natural currents to push plastics towards land for collection and disposal. The project has already raised $2m via a crowdfunding campaign.

However, the soundest investments may eventually be in the ever-lucrative art world. Fashion designer Anya Hindmarch has already taken a High Street chemist’s plastic bag to its logical conclusion, designing a pair of plastic Boots (geddit?) around the classic logo. And... well, does this jumper from Christopher Shannon’s AW14 collection remind you of anything? Looks like a bag could be for life after all...