A recent study has found that a plastic bag tax in the UK in 2015 has had the impact that many had hoped. Single-use plastic has plagued the environment, specifically our oceans, and the study reveals that the tax helps reduce plastic waste.
The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, found that there was a 30 percent drop in plastic bags on seabeds over a large area bordered by Norway, France, and Ireland from 2010 to 2017. It was previously announced that plastic bag usage dropped about 83 percent since the tax was introduced.
“It is encouraging to see that efforts by all of society, whether the public, industry, NGOs or government to reduce plastic bags are having an effect,” said Dr, Thomas Maes from CEFAS, the report’s lead author, in a statement. “We observed sharp declines in the percentage of plastic bags as captured by fishing nets trawling the seafloor around the UK compared to 2010 and this research suggests that by working together we can reduce, reuse and recycle to tackle the marine litter problem.”
Led by the Centre for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), the team used 25 years of data to study plastic that had been trawled from the bottom of the sea. The data consisted of nearly 2,500 ocean trawls between 1992 and 2017. More than 60% of these trawls were found to contain at least one plastic litter item.
The team did not that parts of the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea, and Irish Sea still had up to 1835 pieces of plastic per kilometer showing that there still is a long way to till we are truly protecting our oceans from plastic.
The study results come after the UK announced it will be implementing a bottle and cans deposit program to reduce waste. It’s evident that the UK has focused on reducing plastic but more programs such as these need to be adopted worldwide.
By 2025, it’s expected that plastic pollution in the ocean will triple and that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.