Defra Heralds Reduction in Plastic Use

If your business is involved in the packaging industry or simply uses packaging materials regularly, then you will probably be aware of a continual thrust towards ensuring that recycling targets are met.

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The concerns about the impact of packaging materials and those used to carry products safely have also become major news amongst the general populace, not least since the 5p carrier-bag charge was introduced.

Whilst many members of the public would happily throw used cardboard boxes in the recycling or reuse bubble wrap and other air cushioning options, there were a large proportion who would not think twice about asking for bag after bag every time they shopped in a bricks-and-mortar store.

There is no doubt that the introduction of the charge sparked controversy amongst the business community and the general public, but the government is claiming that the results have been a major victory in the quest for greater environmental protection.

According to a recent announcement by Defra, the number of plastic bags which will be used by England’s shoppers this year will fall by around six billion as a result of the 5p levy being introduced.

Figures reveal an 85 per cent decrease in the use of carrier bags. A total of 1.1 billion carrier bags for single use were sold to customers by the country’s large retailers between October 5, 2015, and April 6, 2016.

Of this number, around 0.6 billion of the number were sold by England’s seven major retailers. These include WM Morrison, Waitrose, the Co-operative group, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Asda. In 2014, in contrast, these retailers provided 7.6 billion of the bags – a huge seven billion more.

In the sixth months between October and April, the government is also heralding the fact that the 5p levy has led to £29 million being donated to charities.

Defra has also been citing figures demonstrating the possible reduced impact on the environment. It said that about eight billion tonnes’ worth of plastic enters oceans every year, threatening the marine environment. Experts claim that 31 different marine mammal species ingest plastic, along with more than 100 different types of sea birds.

Thérèse Coffey, the UK’s new environment minister, called the reduction in plastic-bag use ‘fantastic’ and claimed that this meant greater safety for marine life, as well as cleaner communities and a reduction in the plastic burden set to be faced by future generations.

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