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Plastic bag sales have plummeted by 86% in England’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets since the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge in 2015.
New Government data shows that consumers in these stores bought nearly a quarter fewer plastic bags last year compared to 2016/17 – a dip of around 300 million bags.This is equivalent to just 19 bags per person in England, compared to 140 bags since the government introduced a 5p charge in 2015 – a reduction of 86 percent.
According to a Government spokesperson: “Plastic bags have a significant impact on the environment. Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is curbed – with one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals dying every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.”
Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said: “These figures demonstrate the collective impact we can make to help the environment by making simple changes to our daily routines.
“We want businesses to continue to look at what they can do to help improve our environment to leave it in a better state than we found it.
“It is only by working together we will reverse the rising tide of plastic waste finding its way into our rivers, seas and oceans and the catastrophic impact this is having on our marine environment.”
According to the Government, a recent study by Cefas (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science) revealed since the 5p charge on plastic bags was introduced, which has taken over 9 billion plastic bags out of circulation, there has been an estimated 50% reduction in plastic bag marine litter.
Thomas Maes, Marine Litter Scientist at Cefas said: “Every plastic bag not purchased is one which will not end up in our sea, damaging habitats or harming marine life. Since efforts from across Europe came into effect, including the UK’s 5p charge, we have observed a sharp decline in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets on our trawl surveys of the seafloor around the UK as compared to 2010.
“It is encouraging to see the efforts to reduce plastic bag usage by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government. These figures show that by working together we can tackle the marine litter problem by reducing, reusing and recycling.”