The price of carrier bags in England is set to double to 10p in all shops by April 2021. This will be across all shops, including small retailers (those employing 250 staff or fewer), which currently are exempt from the plastic bag tax. Environment Secretary George Eustice described the UK as “a world-leader in this global effort”. The environmental group Greenpeace said the move was “a small step in the right direction” but urged the government to go further, calling for “fast and substantial reductions on plastic pollution”, going beyond the issue of carrier bags. Currently, in Scotland, England and Wales retailers already charge 5p per carrier bag, but this increase is designed to hopefully further reduce and discourage sales of plastic carrier bags. It was introduced first in Wales in 2011, then in Northern Ireland in 2013, before Scotland introduced the charge for all carrier bags in 2014, and England rolled out its plastic bag charge on 5 October 2015. “Since the fee was introduced in England, an estimated 15 billion bags have been taken out of circulation”, which is thought to have had a positive impact on reducing waste on our beaches and in our oceans. Since the introduction of the plastic bag tax, there was an 86% fall in disposable bags issued by supermarkets. Earlier this month, supermarket Morrisons initiated a trial offering paper bags instead of reusable plastic ones, with the aim of ditching all plastic bags from its stores.
Plastic pollution is a great concern at present, especially after the increase in single-use plastic PPE as a result of COVID-19. Government policies such as this increase in a plastic bag tax are a step in the right direction to help us reduce our single-use plastic consumption, however individuals also need to take responsibility for their own actions. Remembering a tote bag each time you go to the shops, purchasing a reusable coffee cup to keep in your bag, ditching plastic straws and using a reusable mask are all small things that individuals can easily do to help reduce plastic pollution.
At Bags of Ethics, we produce sustainable, ethically made products that aim to eliminate the need for single-use plastic. From our branded tote bags, ideal for small shops and businesses who want to reduce their carbon footprint whilst advertising their brand, to our designer face coverings, which are a stylish and sustainable way to stay safe during the global pandemic that we are currently experiencing. To shop our plastic-free products, visit https://bagsofethics.org/shop/ or for wholesale plastic bag alternatives, visit https://www.supreme-creations.co.uk/.