"Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us – it will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner, and future generations won

UK Tax Slashes Use of Plastic Bags

"Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us – it will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner, and future generations won't be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites," UK Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said.

British shoppers will take home about 6 billion fewer single-use plastic bags this year because the government introduced a 5p tax, according to data published July 30 by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, which reported the tax has resulted in donations of more than £29 million from retailers toward charities and community groups.

About 8 million tonnes of plastic pollutes the oceans each year, and experts estimate the plastic is ingested by 31 species of marine mammals and some 100 species of sea birds, according to the department.

"Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us – it will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner, and future generations won't be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites," UK Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said. "The 5p charge has clearly been a huge success – not only for our environment but for good causes across the country that have benefited 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."

More than 7 billion carrier bags were issued by seven leading retailers in 2014, but that number has fallen to slightly more than 500 million in the first six months of the 5p charge for single-use carrier bags introduced in October 2015.

"We are delighted to see that the bag charge in England is showing positive results. This is a significant reduction that will benefit the environment as a whole, and our sea life in particular," said Dr. Sue Kinsey, a technical specialist, waste, at the Marine Conservation Society. "There is always more that we can do, and we encourage everyone to join in on our Great British Beach Clean this September to help keep our coastlines clean."

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