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UK Plastic Bag Sales Fall 86% After Introduction of Extra Charge

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Keep calm and carry a reusable shopping bag.

That seems to be the pervasive message inside businesses in the UK, where single-use plastic bag sales have fallen by 86% since legislation exacted a 5-pence charge on them, The Independent reported.

Take Action: Say No to Using Single-Use Plastics

“It is only by working together we will reverse the rising tide of plastic waste finding its way into our rivers, seas, and oceans and the catastrophic impact this is having on our marine environment,” Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said in an interview with The Independent. “These figures demonstrate the collective impact we can make to help the environment by making simple changes to our daily routines.

Seven major retailers, including Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, the Co-operative Group, Waitrose, and Morrisons issued 7.6 billion single-use bags in 2014, according to the report.

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But that figure sank to just over a billion in 2017-18, following the new charge.

Put another way, before the charge was introduced, 140 bags were sold per person, noted Climate Action. The figure is now at a low of 19 per person.

As a result, activists are campaigning for similar measures to be taken to reduce the use of other plastic items.

“Great as it is to see that so many less plastic bags are entering our environment, there is still a long list of other plastic nasties that are being used for moments before hanging around for centuries to come,” said Rosie Cotgreave, a representative of Friends of the Earth, in an interview with The Independent.

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“Companies and governments must do more. It’s time legislation was extended to cover all other unnecessary single-use plastics, from straws to coffee cups.”

Earlier this year, the UK pledged to eradicate all “avoidable” plastic pollution within the next 25 years, reported Climate Action. Since then, progress has been made in removing plastic microbeads from health care products and introducing a deposit return for plastic bottles.