English Plastic Bag Miracle: Use Down 85 Percent In Under A Year. Here’s How
Paper or plastic?
It used to be this was the unfortunate, Sophie’s choice question with which you would presented at the grocery store. The implication of course is: would you rather kill trees, or contribute to the massive waste, poisoning of the landscape, and killing of all manner of fish, fowl and fauna due to ingesting or getting entangled in plastic bags?
Thank you, come again.
Nowadays of course, the so-called T-shirt bag reigns supreme, contributing to the deaths of waterfowl, turtles who mistake the floating bags for jellyfish and choke on them, and turning up by the thousands in the bellies of beached whales.
But there is a bright spot, actually a miraculous one in the war against plastic bags, coming out of England. A newly enacted tariff or fee on plastic bags has resulted in a drop of some 85 percent of the use of the bags.
What’s more amazing about this story is not only the precipitous drop in the use of the bags by Britons in the face of a five pence (about seven cents) per bag fee, but the fact that the law has only been in effect since last October.
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced that approximately six billion fewer plastic bags were taken home by shoppers in England since the enactment of the law. The bag fee also resulted in some £29 million ($38 million) being donated to charity as a result of the charge.
“This is the equivalent to the weight of roughly 300 blue whales, 300,000 sea turtles or three million pelicans,” DEFRA announced regarding the bags that had been eliminated.
By calculating the number of bags given out by England’s seven largest retailers in 2014 and arriving at a figure of 7.6 billion, the agency found that by handing out a mere half billion so far this year, the number will be reduced by six billion over the course of a full year.
Interestingly, England is the last of the UK nations to take up the matter of charging for plastic bags. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, had already enacted such laws, reducing the number of bags used by 71 percent in Wales alone, with similar figures in the other members of the UK.
Money talks and BS walks, as we have seen time and again. It’s high time the US and other countries adopt similar measures.