New UK study proves plastic bag legislation is working

"Great to see less plastic bags in our oceans, but we need the government to put an end to the use of all avoidable single-use plastic by 2025."

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Image Credit: The Independent

If the United Kingdom’s new study conducted by Center for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) has any clout, the future of the plastic bag might soon be obsolete.

The new 25-year study concluded that plastic pollution legislation really works. With “significantly fewer plastic bags on the seafloor over since a number of European countries introduced fees on the items,” EcoWatch reported, researched determined a 30 percent drop in plastic pollution in the waters surrounding Norway, Germany, northern France and Ireland.

“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,” Thomas Maes, Marine Litter Scientist at CEFAS, said in a statement.

Published in the Science of The Total Environment, was conducted between 1992 and 2017 and was based off of “39 independent scientific surveys of the distribution and abundance of marine litter on seabeds of the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea and Irish Sea,” EcoWatch reported.

Much of the debris observed through the study’s time period included plastic bags, bottles and fishing debris.

“It shows that fiscal measures can work – charging for what was once a free item, often used just once and thrown away, has had a real influence on consumer behavior without genuinely hurting people in the pocket,” Richard Harrington from the Marine Conservation Society said.

While many conservation groups are hopeful from the study’s results, the truth of the matter is that their is a greater amount of other plastic items on the seafloor and an abundance of fishing debris, the study concluded.

The authors of the survey offer some solutions to the world’s plastic pollution filling the waters such as biodegradable plastics as well as raise awareness about marine life and the consequences plastic has on their overall ecosystem.

“Great to see less plastic bags in our oceans, but we need the government to put an end to the use of all avoidable single-use plastic by 2025,” WWF U.K. tweeted.

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