Starting this week, people will still be able to get plastic bags, but they will have to pay. Many shoppers throughout the country will have to pay 5P for plastic bags, as this is a bid to cut down the number of bags that are handed out on an annual basis.
In England alone, millions of dollars are spent on cleaning up plastic bags every single year. It’s estimated that England spends around $15 million to clean up bags.
In the UK, more than seven billion plastic bags are handed out yearly, and now England is doing its part to slash the number of plastic bags handed out, according to BBC News. As a matter of fact, England is the last part of the UK to start charging for plastic bags at stores.
Shoppers in England will have to use their own bags or pay to get them. This goes for shoppers at all major supermarkets in the country, as well as large shops.
The move has been welcomed by environmentalists around the country. However, some have been calling for a scheme that includes all retailers in the country.
If a retailer in England has 250 employees or more, then they will be required to charge for the bags they offer to shoppers and for delivers. This means shoppers will be charged for plastic bags provided by stores such as Tesco, ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Aldi, to name just a few. However, smaller shops are exempt, and paper bags are also exempt.
Shoppers who buy meat that is uncooked will be provided with free bags. They will also receive free bags if they buy uncooked poultry, fish, some fresh produce, as well as prescription medicine. Consumers who purchase potatoes or unwrapped ready-to-eat foods will get free bags too.
There are some campaigners who pointed out the exemptions. Some have said that this move may not be as successful as other schemes that have been introduced throughout the UK.
Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization, said that the charge should not just apply to shoppers going to the larger stores, as it should apply to smaller shops too. However, the organization did say that charge will reduce the number of bags being used.
According to the Telegraph, on average, shoppers in Britain use 11 bags per month. Also, the retailers that do charge for bags can decide how to spend most of the revenue generate from the charge.
In 2011, stores across Wales started to charge 5P for plastic bags, and since the charge was introduced, there has been a drop of 71 percent of plastic bags being used.
Scotland and Northern Ireland introduced charges for bags in 2014 and 2014. Since then, both countries have seen drops in the number of plastic bags being used.
A poll conducted for the Break the Bag Habit coalition of litter charities found that just over 60 percent of shoppers in Britain didn’t think it was unreasonable to charge 5P for bags.
So far, shoppers across England don’t seem to bothered by the fact that they will have to pay a little bit of money for bags provided by some stores. Also, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have all said that customers have reacted positively towards the charge. The companies added that everything was business as usual.
Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England are not the first places to take action against the use of plastic bags. Back in 2002, thinner plastic bags were banned altogether in Bangladesh. It was the first country to do this, and one of the reasons why they decided to enact the ban is because bags were causing issues with local drainage systems during floods.