A report published yesterday states that 8 billion single use plastic bags were used in England last year, up 5% on last year.
In the same time period, there had been significant reductions in Wales, where a charge has been introduced.
Although many people are committed to recycling, have made efforts to reused and recycle plastic bags and bought “Bags for Life”, the evidence is now overwhelming that the best way to significantly reduce bag use is to start to charge.
In Wales, with a 5p charge, businesses have report a drop in bag sales of about 70%. A 5p charge is to be introduced in Northern Ireland from next April
A charge for plastic bags was first introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 2002. The charge currently stands at 22 cents (18p) per bag.
Following the introduction of the charge, consumption of plastic bags in the Republic fell by 90% – from an initial consumption of 1.2bn bags per year, or about 306 per person.
The charge has also raised over €173m for Ireland’s exchequer.
If introduced in England, this could create similar revenues. This money could, and should, be earmarked to support Green schemes and encouraging further recycling.