British shoppers took 8.5m single-use carrier bags from major supermarkets in 2014, an increase for the 5th year in a row.
Plastic bags can take years to fully decompose and even though household recycling rates have improved significantly in recent years, 16,000 tonnes of waste still goes to landfill every year. Around 8m tonnes of plastic also ends up in our oceans each year, polluting the marine environment and harming precious sea life.
Rory Stewart, the Resource Minister, said “simple changes to our shopping routines, such as taking our own bags with us or using more bags for life, can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of plastic in circulation meaning we can all enjoy a cleaner, healthier country.”
The introduction of a 5p charge for single-use carrier bags comes into effect in England next month (October) following the success of similar schemes in Scotland and Wales. In Wales the charge led to a 79% decrease in plastic bags taken in the first three years and in second the number of ‘bags for life’ used quadrupled last year.
Rory Stewart added “The charge will also boost our growing economy by delivering savings of £60m in litter clean-up costs and £13m in carbon savings. Good causes will also benefit from the charge and as much as £730m could be donated to charities and no-for-profit organisations over 10 years”.
We can all play our part, so next time you to pop into Masons or along to a supermarket, please remember to take your own bags.