Charge for Change

In October 2015, England introduced a 5p (8c AUD) tax on plastic bags part of a government scheme to reduce litter, positively impact the environment and protect wildlife. 

The retailers can choose what to do with the 5p proceeds. But, as The Guardian reported, "they are donate it to good causes, and over the next 10 years the government hopes this will raise about £730m"

Environmental initiatives and sustainable schemes like this have been implemented in surrounding countries Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  According to the British Government, in 2014, 8.5bn thin-gauge plastic bags were used last year by customers of UK supermarkets alone.

In Wales, where the tax has been applied since 2011, customers use two plastic bags per month, whereas in England, prior to implementing the tax, the average shopper went through approximately 12 thin-gauge bags per month.  

The British Government predicted bag numbers to fall by more than 70%. This would ultimately reduce the number of plastic bags ending up in the oceans or landfill by billions every year. 

Six months after enforcing the tax, the results have superseded such predictions. According to reports plastic bag usage has dropped by around 80% and remains static.

Considering that, at present, the ocean is full of an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic and each year roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic is discharged into the ocean it might be about time for Australia to enforce such initiatives.

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