Plastic bag use plummets in England since 5p charge


    Plastic bag use has plummeted in England since the introduction of a 5p charge last year, the government has said.

    In the six months after the levy was brought in last October, 640 million plastic bags were used in seven major supermarkets in England, it says.

    In 2014, the waste reduction charity Wrap estimated the same shops had used 7.64 billion bags over the full year.
    If that trend were to continue over the year this would be a drop of 83%.

    It follows the pattern seen in the rest of the UK since the introduction of charges for bags.

    Wales introduced a levy in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. They saw reductions in bag use of 76%, 71% and 80%, respectively, in the first year after the fee was established.

    The charge means all retailers with more than 250 full-time employees are required to charge a minimum of 5p to customers for single-use, plastic carrier bags, but paper bags are exempt.

    Environment Minister Therese Coffey said the reduction in the number of bags being used was “fantastic news”.

    “It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites.”

    This reduction in plastic could benefit the environment, especially the oceans.

    A report published in the journal Science in 2015 estimated that about eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in global waters each year.