Starting October 5th, large shops across England will need to charge a minimum of five pence for all single plastic carrier bags they provide. This might not sound like welcome news, but it’s a move which should reduce the devastating environmental impact which those bags have on the environment.
Here are just a few reasons why the change is necessary.
A Global Concern
The Earth Policy Institute has helped underscore the global nature of the plastic bag problem. They found that over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year across the world. Countries such as China account for 3 billion plastic bags daily, and around 2 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world. If you spend five minutes reading this article, that’s 10 million plastic bags in less time than you’d even think about.
Larger countries might lead the way when it comes to the amount of plastic bags being used each year, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t playing a significant role in their overuse; plastic bag usage rose during 2015 for the fifth year running – to a staggering 8.5 billion.
This is in spite of the fact that far more environmentally-friendly options – such as paper bags, cotton bags, and bags for life – are easily available. In fact, it has been predicted that only 1 out of every 200 plastic bags in the UK is recycled, despite the fact that the average household has 40 plastic bags already in the home.
The Environmental Impact
Those figures are startling by themselves, but their impact upon the world really brings the message home. It is estimated that every square mile of ocean contains around 46,000 pieces of plastic, and that a single plastic bag can take up to 500 years to degrade. This causes untold waste, while littering the entire planet, with around 3,570,000 tons (90% of bags produced) discarded without any attempt at reuse.
Statistics such as these help people understand the phenomenal importance of switching from single use plastic bags to paper bags, cotton bags, and other reusable options. It’s not just five pence which is at stake.
Here is Paper Bag Co’s World Record Attempt in relation to raising awareness for the 5- charge on plastic carrier bags: