In the UK, there are over 6 billion plastic bags less in circulation than in 2015. This phenomenal reduction has happened in just six months, after the government introduced a tax in October last year.
That means each person is using approximately 100 less plastic bags a year in the UK. This shows the quite staggering effect of the law on businesses. And in France they are about to introduce a ban on single use plastic cups, knives, forks and plates. The results of this will be interesting.
The law of many countries, and the behaviour of their businesses, often seem to be changing together. Are they following public opinion? It is difficult to say, because even in places where public opinion has no power, like states which don’t have a democratic system of government, there are changes in the right direction. For example, in the UAE (an autocracy ) there is a ban on non-biodegradeable plastic products. And then in (democratic) Ghana a directive last year banned non-biodegradeable plastic bags and 500 litre water sachets.
And even without the hard stick of the law, businesses are reflecting and pushing to change our awareness of the misuse of plastic further. Last month for example, German supermarket chain Lidl UK pledged to remove single-use plastic carrier bags from sale across all stores in England, Scotland and Wales. Their commitment is set to prevent an estimated 63 million plastic bags per year from being used – the equivalent of 760 tonnes of plastic – equal to 1 plastic bag per person per year in the UK! Consumer businesses include Lidl……and Asda…… Marks & Spencer… many are changing their act, and boosting a number of social development projects and local charities in the process.
It is not only the waste businesses that are seeing the results of these initiatives (they have seen a 75% reduction in plastic bags coming through their facilities) but are driving some changes too. Richard Kirkman, who works for Veolia (they handle the environmental waste in Wales and elsewhere) as Technical Director, said that they are now turning carrier bags into refuse sacks.
All these different global initiatives, in their respective countries (using law, businesses and local communities) are all walking together to create real and effective change in stopping the scourge of thoughtless plastic waste management – something which can only risk our beautiful world!