Last year businesses in the United Kingdom were issuing plastic bags at an astonishing rate of 254 per second. Also figures from the Waste and Resources Action Programme say that eight billion thin gauge plastic bags were issued last year which was a 5.4 percent increase on the 7.6 billion bags issued the year before.
Now four environmental organisations in the UK have joined together and are calling for a levy on single-use bags in England. All the net growth in the use of these plastic bags came from England because there are already levies in place in Wales and Ireland which have had great success. England is the only country without a levy and not actively looking for one.
Now the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Marine Conservation Society, Keep Britain Tidy and Surfers Against Sewage are launching the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ campaign and want the government to insist that retailers introduce a levy on single-use bags. The government has made repeated calls for retailers to reduce the number of bags that they hand out but it has had no effect.
Indeed, the number of bags given out has risen and the Campaign says that this increase has mirrored an increase in plastic bag littering. Volunteers on the Marine Conservation Society’s beach clean last year, Beachwatch, picked up more than five thousand bags in just one weekend.
Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2011 that the increase in bag usage was unacceptable. He said that he wanted retailers to make more of an effort and now the Campaign wants him to back his words up with deeds by introducing the levy on single-use plastic bags