Three years ago, the UK took a big step in reducing its plastic pollution by instituting a 5p charge for using a plastic bag when shopping. The results have been highly positive. In fact, it’s estimated that the use of plastic bags in England has diminished by nearly 90% since the additional fee was introduced in 2015!
Last year saw the biggest reduction, with a 25% drop in the sales of plastic bags among the UK’s biggest supermarkets. In terms of actual numbers, that equates to almost 300 million fewer plastic bags going out into the environment. The effort shows just how big of an impact we can have on the environment by making some relatively small changes to our daily lives.
The United Kingdom’s supermarkets are instituting additional efforts to positively impact the environment and other community projects, too. For many stores, when they do sell a plastic bag, a portion of the money is donated to various charitable organizations.
While the reduction of the sell of plastic bags is something to be celebrated, much more needs to be done in order to truly combat the effects of plastic pollution. Many scientists believe that despite the efforts made by the UK government, the amount of plastic waste being introduced into our planet’s oceans will likely triple over the next three years. That kind of volume will take a serious toll on marine life, killing millions of birds and fish.
Still, the 5p charge shows just how effective such an effort can be. UK scientists have suggested that since the additional fees went into effect three years ago, approximately 9 billion fewer bags have been produced and plastic bag litter retrieved from the sea around England is down by roughly 50%.
All businesses are highly encouraged to continue to search for ways to reduce their impact on the environment. England’s supermarkets and the additional charge for plastic bag usage is just one example of what can be accomplished when concentrated efforts are made to protect the planet. Here’s hoping that the next major project is just as effective.