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The introduction of a 5p charge (or equivalent) on plastic carrier bags has been a success. Or, at least, it is beginning to appear that the policy has successfully and positively impacted the amount of plastic bag waste.

In a new study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, scientists have found a drop in plastic bag pollution by as much as 30%. The measurements began in 2010, focusing on a region of seabed spanning from Norway and Germany to Ireland. The time scientists began taking data should be considered relative to when the likes of Denmark and Ireland were first to introduce a 5p charge in 2003. These countries were then followed by a number of other European countries over the years, with England only adopting the policy in 2015.

The research could be interpreted as highlighting the positive role policy can play when it comes to helping change and transform consumer behaviour. If the findings are consistent, the data could serve as further evidence and support when it comes to other policy developments, such as the “latte levy”.

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