The 5p levy introduced last year has driven an 85% drop in the use of carrier bags in England, latest figures show.
Figures published last week show that in the first six months since the charge was introduced, England used 500m carrier bags, falling from 7bn in the previous year. Defra was targeting an 80% drop as a result of the charge and these latest figures have been hailed as “fantastic news for all of us”, by newly appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey.
This positive impact of the 5p levy follows similar success seen in Wales and Scotland when they introduced this fee in 2011 and 2014 respectively. The aim of the levy was to reduce the 65,000 tonnes of plastic bags which end up in our landfill each year, decrease litter, save millions in clean-up costs and protect wildlife. The 5p charge has also resulted in nearly £30m of donations from retailers to charities, community groups and local initiatives.
Retailers only need to comply with the charge if they have 250 or more full-time employees. This is to reduce the administrative burden on small and medium sized businesses, however they can charge on a voluntary basis if they so wish. More information can be found here.
Following early criticism from some members of the public and media outlets, it is clear to see the direct impact the levy has had on the overall use of single-use carrier bags in England, and the rest of the UK in fact. Consumer habit is now shifting towards bag-for-life options or keeping hold of used bags when people return for their weekly shop, all of which were ultimately the outcome the charge was looking to achieve.
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