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5p for plastic bags in England

From today, (5th October 2015) shoppers in England will be charged 5p for plastic bags in a bid to reduce the plastic waste it causes.

England is the last part of the UK to start charging for bags and dresses with a similar tax already in place in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

However, the new tax does not apply to everyone. Shops with 250 or more employees must charge 5p but smaller shops and paper bags are exempt.

Stores can still provide free bags for customers who are buying uncooked meat or fish, prescriptions, fresh produce (E.g. flowers), and take away food such as chips.

Some environmental campaigners are worried that these exemptions may make this ban less successful then in other parts of the UK.

It is estimated that nearly 8 billion plastic bags are given away in England alone. It is expected that the new levy will reduce that amount by 75%.

The cash generated by the bag tax will be donated to charities nominated by the shops.

Single-use carrier bags can take 1,000 years to degrade. Not only detrimental to wildlife but it is estimated that there are 70 bags per mile on our coastlines.

Do you agree with the charge, or should they be banned completely?

The same argument could be made for single-use plastic water bottles, which are still a huge burden on our ecosystem. Over 70 billion single use plastic water bottles are consumed annually in the US and Europe alone; National Geographic estimate that a maximum of 20% are recycled.

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