Hot on the heels of the microbead manufacture ban, the 5p charge for plastic bags is set to be extended to small shops in the UK, a move welcomed by Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) researchers.
Previously, retailers with fewer than 250 employees were exempt from the charge, able to continue to provide free plastic bags to shoppers. The shift to now include them in the charge is further progress in tackling single-use, throwaway culture and the polluting impacts it can have on the environment.
The charge for plastic bags, introduced in the UK in 2015, has resulted in an incredible 90% decline in their use – a figure that amounts to around nine billion fewer plastic bags being used, and a significant reduction in plastic finding its way into the natural environment and the world’s oceans.
“Plastic litter is prevalent in our oceans, posing a substantial risk to marine life, and we’ve all seen the tragic images on Blue Planet II of whales, turtles and birds eating plastic,” said Dr Matt Cole, of PML’s Microplastic Research Group. “The introduction of the plastic bag charge has already greatly reduced the amount of plastic bags in circulation in the UK, and this in turn means a prominent source of plastic pollution is being curbed. We’re encouraged and hope other governments will also follow suit.”
“While this is a great step forward we mustn’t forget there are many other types of plastic pollution, and all of us can play a part in reducing their impact.”