Charging For Plastic Bags In England Has Caused An 85 Percent Drop In Use

Charging for plastic bags has proven to be a useful tool in limiting their use in England. It was the last country in the United Kingdom to introduce the fee for plastic. Only six months after doing so, the results show a major improvement.

Not only have the number of bags used dropped 85 percent, but the money made from charging for non-reusable bags has been given to support nonprofit endeavors.

According to IFL Science, the number of bags distributed across UK has dropped from 7 billion to an estimated 640 million. That’s a huge drop! Over $40 million has been donated to charities, environmental causes and more.


The law required stores with more than 250 full-time employees to implement the fee (5 pence—the equivalent of 7 cents) for bags. Scotland and Wales have since extended this law to include small businesses. England may soon follow suit.

The Guardian reports Environment Minister Therese Coffey spoke about the difference that charging for plastic has made. “It shows small actions can make the biggest difference,” she said. “But we must not be complacent, as there is always more we can all do to reduce waste and recycle what we use.”

Considering that a recent study found plastic from the UK has been found in the Arctic waters, I’d say our oceans are all the better for it.

[h/t: IFL Science]