New study claims that the number of plastic bags on the ocean floor around parts of Europe has dropped by almost a third.
The plastic bag levy seems to be working!
A new scientific study claims that the number of plastic bags on the ocean floor around parts of Europe is dropping, which could be proof that the plastic bag levy is having an effect. There are fewer plastic bags on the seafloor since the introduction of a carrier bag charge in many EU countries, according to the study.
30% fewer plastic bags on seabed but 63% of trawls contained at least one plastic litter item
Scientists from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) say they have found an estimated 30% drop in the number of plastic bags on the seabed around Norway, Germany, northern France and Ireland
25 years of research: The findings were based on the analysis of nearly 2500 ocean trawls conducted by ships between 1992 and 2017. However, over the quarter-century period studied, 63% of the trawls contained at least one plastic litter item.
Ireland and Denmark were the first two countries to bring in charges for single use plastic bags in 2003 and England was the last UK nation to introduce a levy, in 2015
The UK has used 9 billion fewer plastic bags since the 5p charge was introduced. Data from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) revealed that around 83% fewer bags were sold by the UK’s main seven retailers in 2016/17 compared to 2014.
We’re not out of the water yet…
The research comes shortly after another report concluded the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is set to treble within a decade. The reduction in plastic bags entering the ocean is proof that taxes and levies are a good step, but governments need to be thinking bigger and putting an end to the use of all avoidable single-use plastic by 2025.
Coffee cups and plastic bottles
The government has so far been loath to commit to a mandatory coffee cup charge, preferring to support voluntary commitments by retailers such as Starbucks, which is currently trialling a five pence coffee cup charge.
The picture for plastic bottles looks set to change, however, with Defra’s recent announcement that it will be introducing a deposit return scheme in England for plastic, metal and glass drinks containers, subject to the results of a consultation.
Check out our recent article on “The Blue Planet Effect”.
Nine Easy Things You Can Do To Save the Ocean
It’s our responsibility to keep the oceans clean and, so far, we suck at it. Most of us don’t know we harm the ocean with ordinary things we do every day. Best of all, they’re things that are easy to stop doing, or to do better. Check them out.