This month (October 2015) saw all shops in England (with over 250 employees) begin to pass on the mandatory 5p plastic bag charge to customers. Wales & Scotland have been doing this since 2011, with significant success, but where does the money go and why do we have to pay?
Reusing plastic bags has been a hot topic for a while, but to further reduce landfill and litter the 5p charge has been brought into force. At the moment only the bigger shops are legally obliged to charge the fee with smaller retailers as well as airports, shops on board ships, aeroplanes or trains not legally required to. The Government are hoping to cut the amount of plastic bags given out by 80% and as an added benefit it looks like the new charge will produce a significant amount of much needed money for worthwhile projects and charities.
We’re all seeing how plastic affects the environment and hearing about the tens of thousands of marine life injured and killed by debris. Most plastic we discard ends up in the ocean and even the stuff taken to landfill simply blows into the sea which then forms floating plastic islands due to ocean currents.
The sad truth is plastic looks like food for many sea animals. When they eat the offending items it blocks the intestines preventing absorption of nutrients – meaning the animals simply starve to death. It’s estimated that 90% of sea birds have plastic in their stomachs, and sickeningly, when eaten by fish, this plastic also enters the food chain, eventually getting eaten by humans. Yuk!
The money taken from the 5p charge is paid straight to the supermarkets’ and the expectation, and hope, is that they’ll pass that along to good causes. So far in Scotland and Wales most retailers have given to charities and projects; Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and The Co-Operative all favouring local and national charities and projects.
We think this charge can only be a good thing. It will definitely reduce the amount of plastic waste generated, and we hope the supermarkets continue to do what’s right by the environment too.
Day 49: Beginnings & Endings by Quinn Dombrowski
Plastic Bags by Zainub Razvi
Mannestés Tlita Od Hamdan by Lucyin – Own work – [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]
High Street in High Summer by Jonathan Billinger [CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]