Victory on polythene bag charges led to cleaner towns, countryside and seas
Shoppers now take home around six billion fewer single-use plastic bags every year following the introduction of the 5p charge. This is the equivalent to the weight of roughly 300 blue whales, 300,000 sea turtles or three million pelicans.
The charge has also resulted in donations of more than £29 million from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups.
Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment both when it breaks up into microscopic particles and when it stays intact. Plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.
The tax was brought in after a long campaign by Lib Dem Peeress Kate Parminter which was backed by the Daily Mail
Conservatives resisted for years but eventually the Coalition government allowed England to follow where Wales and Northern Ireland had already gone.
Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation makes the world’s precious marine life safer, our communities cleaner and stops future generations from being saddled with mountains of plastic which would take hundreds of years to breakdown in landfill sites.
The 5p charge has clearly been a huge success – not only for our environment but for good causes across the country that have benefitted from an impressive £29 million raised.
Over seven billion carrier bags were issued by seven main retailers in 2014. This fell to just over half a billion in the first six months of the 5p charge for single use carrier bags introduced in October 2015.
Dr Sue Kinsey, Technical Specialist, Waste at the Marine Conservation Society said:
“We are delighted to see that the bag charge in England is showing positive results. This is a significant reduction that will benefit the environment as a whole, and our sea life in particular. There is always more that we can do and we encourage everyone to join in on our Great British Beach Clean this September to help keep our coastlines clean.”
Baroness Kate Parminter said:
“We ensured that small and medium-sized businesses were exempt from the charge to avoid imposing burdens on start-up and growing businesses in England.”
“A charge on plastic bags raised the national consciousness about the role each one of us can, and must play if we are to tackle collectively the problems of litter and respond to the challenge of climate change.”
“Putting a levy on these icons of a throwaway society was a victory for the environment, and for wildlife.”
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