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Plastic Bag Usage Rises for Fourth Year Running

Plastic bags have long been held up as the main offender when it comes to non-recyclable waste, with billions of bags that are not biodegradable ending up in landfill year on year in the UK.

Various schemes have been introduced over the last 10-15 years in an effort to abate the never-ending tide of plastic that is doing considerable damage to the global ecosystem, from charging for their use in supermarkets to offering ‘bag for life’ options.

Regardless, the environmental impact of waste plastic bags is huge, with colossal amounts consumed every year to be used only once or twice. So are the efforts of governments and retail companies enough?

8.3 billion plastic bags in the UK

Scarily, despite attempts to slow down their use, UK figures for plastic bag consumption are actually up on previous years. Scarier still, the rise has been going on for half a decade, with numbers steadily growing since 2009, finally hitting 8.3bn in
2013. This represents a 3% increase from the previous 12 months, according to government-run waste programme Wrap.

Considering that these figures only relate to a portion of supermarkets that give away plastic bags, with the real total thought to be far higher, the general assumption that we are improving our green credentials is certainly being challenged.

1 trillion plastic bags worldwide

While the UK figures for the past year are still down on 2006’s peak of 12.174 billion, the rise is certainly a cause for concern. Indeed, plastic bag figures worldwide make for staggering reading, with 500 billion to 1 trillion used each year – the equivalent of 1 every minute.

The USA are among the worst culprits, despite many
supermarkets offering a paper bag alternative. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that less than 5% of plastic bags are recycled in the States, with the country using a massive 100 billion every year. This equates to around 12 million barrels of oil when the manufacturing process is broken down into material components.

Reduction Efforts

In a combative measure, a nationwide charge of 5p per bag is set to be introduced into England in 2015, following the general election of that year. Similar methods have already demonstrated success in Wales, where the charge has been in place since 2011. Here, all the proceeds go to charities (including Keep Wales Tidy and the RSPB) that deal with the environmental impact of plastic bag waste, and ‘single use’ bag consumption has fallen dramatically by 96%.

Woodford Recycling are one of the leading providers of waste processing services in the Huntingdon, Bedford, Cambridge, Peterborough and wider areas. We offer first rate domestic and commercial skip hire, and our on-site waste transfer facilities aim to recycle over 85% of everything we collect.

Our experienced team are also on hand to provide hazardous waste disposal, such as asbestos and septic tanks, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with Woodford Recycling today for more information or to request a quote.


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