The government's 5p charge has had a dramatic effect on the number of plastic bags being used by people in England. In 2014, over seven billion plastic bags were given out by England's seven main supermarket chains, but this year shoppers are on course to use around one billion. In the six months since the 5p charge was introduced last October, the seven main supermarket chains supplied around half a billion plastic bags to customers, which represents a hefty drop of around 85%. Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has hailed the figures as "fantastic news for all of us," saying, "It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to breakdown in landfill sites." The 5p charge has also raised more than £29 million for good causes, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said in a report published today. Dr Sue Kinsey of the Marine Conservation Society (MCSUK), a charity which works to protect Britain's seas, shores and wildlife, called the figures a "significant reduction that will benefit the environment as a whole, and our sea life in particular."
However, Dr Kinsey also noted, "There is always more that we can do and we encourage everyone to join in on our Great British Beach Clean this September to help keep our coastlines clean." Responding to the news on Twitter, the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett, wrote: "It took ridiculously long time, but finally #plasticbag charge here & effective. Next #microbeads & disposable cups."