England has put a 5p charge on plastic bags last year and it’s already having a huge impact on the environment. The use of disposable bags has decreased 85% since the same time last year! Last year 7 billion bags had been handed out compared to just 500 million so far this year. The Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach cleanup noted that the number of plastic bags found on the shore was done by a third – and that’s after just one year.
The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish.