8 million tons of plastic bags
Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs
Figures show on average Brits take home 8.5 billion single-use carrier bags from supermarkets, this is why the Government is trying to cut down on their usage
Around eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into oceans each year, posing a serious threat to our natural and marine environment – experts estimate that plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and over 100 species of sea birds.
They are bad for wildlife
Plastic bags can choke or poison fish, animals and birds, with marine wildlife particularly vulnerable. As a study cited by the Government explains,“when seabirds, sea mammals or fish ingest plastic particles, blocking of the gut is likely to harm or even kill the organism”.
They are costly to clear up
Littered carrier bags cost taxpayers about £10 million a year in clean-up costs.
They use up finite natural resources
Plastic bags consume resources, including oil, in their creation. According to some estimates, up to 100 million barrels of oil are needed to make the world’s plastic bags each year. Yet typical usage of a plastic bag lasts just 20minutes.
They take years to decompose
As Defra says, “even when disposed of responsibly, plastic bags can last for long periods of time in landfill sites”. In the UK, some 16,000 tonnes of waste is sent to landfill each year – where, according to campaigners, the plastic bags can take 1,000 years to decompose.
What have we done to improve this:
Six billion fewer plastic bags taken home by shoppers and over £29 million donated to good causes thanks to 5p charge
The 5p charge has clearly been a huge success – not only for our environment but for good causes across the country that have benefitted from an impressive £29 million raised.
It shows small actions can make the biggest difference, but we must not be complacent as there is always more we can all do to reduce waste and recycle what we use.