Need to Know

Amount of Plastic Bags Found in UK Waters is Declining

Efforts like taxing supermarket carry bags have helped reduce plastic bag usage and pollution.

It’s no secret that the world’s waters are polluted with large amounts of plastic, but in the UK, the amount of plastic bags found in local waters is declining thanks to the government’s move to tax supermarket carry bags.

The 7-cent tax has led to an 80 percent decrease in plastic bag usage throughout England and a 30 percent decline in plastic bags found in local ocean trawls, according to researchers. And now that the government has seen that the taxing has been effective, it’s considering a charge for disposable coffee cups to cut down on coffee cup waste.

ZME Science has more information:

British scientists have fished out all sorts of plastic debris from waters surrounding the UK, then compared the type and number of polluting items to records from up to 25 years ago. The analysis found a decline in certain types of plastic pollution, suggesting that local measures like taxing supermarket carry bags are working. However, there is still much to go.

Previously, the British government has implemented all sorts of measures aimed at curbing plastic waste, such as charging for plastic carrier bags or bottle deposit schemes — and these seem to work. One recent survey found that the supermarket carrier bag charge led to an 80% decrease in their use throughout England. Now, researchers at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) have confirmed the trend — this time, on the seafloor around English waters.

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