Our oceans are cleaner thanks to plastic bag fees.
According to The Center for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), there was a 30% drop in the number of plastic bags littering several sea beds around the UK between 2012 and 2017. Across the UK, there’s a 5 pence charge for all single-use plastic bags that come from shops with 250+ full-time employees. The fee was first enacted in Wales in 2011.
In 2015, England became the last UK country to charge the fee. CEFAS noticed the drop in plastic bag litter started after the fees were issued.
Marine Litter Scientist Thomas Maes stated, “We observed sharp declines in the percentage of plastic bags as captured by fishing nets trawling the seafloor around the UK compared to 2010 and this research suggests that by working together we can reduce, reuse, and recycle to tackle the marine litter problem.”
However, throughout the 25 year study period, CEFAS noticed there was an increase in other plastic items littering the sea. In March 2018, the UK proposed a similar charge for consumers who buy single-use plastic bottles, which could help clean the seafloor ever further. Hopefully more implementations like these will lead to a cleaner environment.