The global marine litter crisis – who gets the blame?

Plastic bag tax – to be increased and extended say reports


Clare Fischer

Date posted:
25 August 2018

The current charge of 5p for a single-use plastic carrier bag looks set to rise from 5p to 10p, according to media reports today (25th August).

Euro beach litter
© Bo Eide

This extension of the plastic bag charge to smaller shops is a welcome, logical next step in tackling single-use plastics

Mary Creagh MP,
Chair, Commons Environmental Audit Committee,

In July, a number of the leading supermarkets said they had seen a decrease of 86% in plastic bag use since the 5p charge was introduced.

Reports also suggest that Prime Minister Theresa May and Environment Secretary Michael Gove have already approved a move to extend the charge to all shops including smaller outlets with less than 250 employees in England.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all shops, however small, have to apply the charge.

The 5p levy was introduced in Wales in 2011, Northern Ireland in 2013, Scotland in 2014 and England in October 2015.

The MCS Great British Beach Clean found that the number of plastic bags on UK beaches had dropped by almost half between 2015 and 2016. The lowest number reported in over a decade,

At the time Lauren Eyles, MCS Beachwatch Manager, said: “In the last decade, our Great British Beach Clean volunteers have found an average of ten single use carrier bags for every 100 metres of coastline cleaned. This year, for the first time since the charges were introduced, we’ve seen a significant drop in the number and that can only be as a result of the 5p charge which is now in place in all the home nations. It vindicates the charge, which we predicted would be good news for the marine environment.”

Quoted in today’s Daily Mail, Mary Creagh, chairman of the Commons environment audit select committee, said: ‘This extension of the plastic bag charge to smaller shops is a welcome, logical next step in tackling single-use plastics.

‘Communities will want to know how the funds raised will be spent and how this fits in to the Government’s plans to save our streets and seas from plastic pollution.’

However, the newspaper said that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had declined to comment on its plans for plastic bags.

Actions you can take

  1. Help us stop the plastic tide
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2019

Did you know?…

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is thought to be 6 times the size of the UK

Globally, plastic litter has reached every part of the world’s oceans

Every day millions of microplastics enter the sea from personal care products such as scrubs and toothpastes

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