When the Scottish government introduced a 5 pence tax for plastic bags, they were expecting a significant reduction, but even they weren’t expecting such a big success. In the year that has passed since then, number of plastic bags handed out in stores was slashed by 80% – that’s 650 million less bags! This also translates into a net saving of more than 4,000 tonnes of plastic and a reduction of 2,500 tonnes of CO2 annually.

Image via BBC.

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The system goes like this: plastic carriers used to be free in the entire UK. A year ago, Scotland introduced a meager 5p tax for these bags. The money goes to charity, and not only has this move almost eliminated plastic bags, but it also raised about £6.7m for good causes in the past 12 months ($10 million). Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead hailed the 5p charge a “major success”, and thanked Scotland for “embracing the policy”. He then added:

“Previously, statistics showed that people in Scotland used more than 800 million new single-use carrier bags every single year – more per head than anywhere else in the UK. It’s now becoming second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags and hopefully to think more about our impact on the environment.”

To make things even better, England and Wales also recently implemented this policy. It will be interesting to see how this fares there.