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Government Extend Plastic Bag Charge
Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues, as rapidly increasing production of disposable plastic products overwhelms the world’s ability to deal with them.
It is estimated that 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in our oceans every year. In the UK alone, around 5,000 different kinds of plastic have been found per mile of our beaches. Marine conservation charities have also reported that there are more than 150 plastic bottles scattered across every mile of the beaches in the UK.
The Plastic Bag Charge
Back in 2015, the government introduced a law requiring all supermarkets and large stores charge a minimum of 5p for every plastic carrier bag they handed out in an attempt to encourage shoppers to reuse their own bags and reduce plastic waste.
Since the introduction of the plastic bag charge, the government claims to have successfully prevented billions of plastic bags ending up in the ocean and the environment. As a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014.
Increasing the charge
Following its success, the government has now announced that it will step up its fight against single-use plastics by confirming that the plastic carrier bag charge will be extended to all retailers and increased to 10p from April 2021 to further protect our oceans from plastic waste.
Statistics show the plastic bag charge, which is currently 5p and applies to any retailer employing 250 or more people, has led to a 95 per cent reduction in plastic bag sales in major supermarkets since 2015.
By extending the charge to all retailers, the government hopes to see a significant decrease in bag usage in small shops as well, with customers incentivised to use reusable bags made from more sustainable and environmentally-friendly materials.
The government hopes that its recent announcement, which marks the latest move to clamp down on plastic pollution, will drive this success even further and take them closer to their ambition of eliminating avoidable plastic waste through their 25 Year Environment Plan.
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