Has the plastic bag charge made a difference?


It has now been 9 months since the introduction of the 5p charge for single use plastic bags. But has this new policy made any difference to the usage of them and overall the environment?


The good news is that plastic bag usage has been reduced by around 80%. The UKs biggest supermarket, Tesco said that in December the number of plastic bags used in their stores had be reduced by 78% while Morrisons was down 80% since the introduction of the charge. Another positive is that charities are benefitting from the charge. Although retailers aren’t legally bound to donate the money they are encourage to give it to a worthy cause. The government hopes that the scheme will raise around £730 million in the next 10 years.


However there have been rumours that the plastic bag charge has lead to a small increase in shoplifting with people placing unpaid items into their own bags. Some people have boycotted supermarkets over the charges whilst others will do anything it seems to avoid paying them including taking their goods home in the shopping basket or trolley. There are also reports of an estimated 533 millions bags being stolen worth a value of £27 millions. Bags have even been sold on Gumtree with 100 bags selling for £2 in order to undercut the supermarkets. Some retails have found loopholes to the legislations in order to not have to charge their customers for the use of plastic bags; these include cutting the handles off their original bags!


However despite some of the negatives the figures show how the overall use of plastic bags has overwhelmingly reduced which can only be a good thing for the environment.


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