Number of Plastic Bags in Britain Has Almost Halved After The 5p Tax
This thing just stands to show that free and almost free make a huge difference. In 2015, Scotland instituted a small tax on each plastic bag received at every grocery store. The tax of 5p per bag, roughly $0.06 is insignificant in terms of value, but as it shows, it worked wonders when it came to the environment.
In Scotland alone, the number of plastic bags handed out has dropped by a whopping 80 percent, or roughly 650 million pieces. In other words, this tax has saved some 4,000 tonnes of plastic and kept 2,500 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere in one year. One year later, England, Wales and Northern Ireland followed suit.
As a result, the Marine Conservation Society reported the lowest number of plastic bags found on UK beaches over the past decade. According to a report from the previous year, there were 11 plastic bags per 100 meters of coastline, whereas, in 2016, the number dropped to 7. That’s a 40% reduction in the overall number of discarded bags. Moreover, it can take some time before the real effects can be seen in nature, as many of the bags could have been tossed away in previous years.
The charity’s beach watch manager, Lauren Eyles, said:
“In the last decade, our Great British Beach Clean volunteers have found an average of 10 single use carrier bags for every 100 metres of coastline cleaned. It vindicates the charge, which we predicted would be good news for the marine environment. Thanks to our thousands of fantastic volunteers who collect beach litter data, we can now see the impact these charges have had.”
What’s more, these numbers are expected to drop even further. In Whales for example, where the tax was implemented for five years now, only four bags were found on every 100 meter stretch of beach. In total, the UK beaches have experienced an overall drop in rubbish of 4 percent, due in large part to this small tax. Other relatable pieces of rubbish which pose a serious threat to the environment are plastic caps which were found on an average of 204 per 100 metres. Cotton buds were found on average around 23 per 100 meters, and wet wipes around 14 per 100 m.
These materials can easily be recycled but instead are thrown away, ending up in rivers and ultimately out at sea. Marine life then confuses them with food, blocking their digestive systems and killing them.