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Following the introduction of charges for plastic bags across Europe, scientists have found a big drop in the number of bags found in the seas around Great Britain. In the first study of its kind, researchers have found an estimated 30 percent drop in plastic bags on the seabed in an area from next to Norway and Germany to northern France and west to Ireland since 2010!

The study, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, claims that the drop in plastic bag pollution is the result of the taxes and clearly illustrates their power to reduce plastic waste, the Guardian reports.

In 2003, Ireland and Denmark were the first two countries to introduce charges on plastic bags. Many other European countries followed. England was the last UK nation to join in – in 2015.

The UK tax of five pence per plastic bag has already reduced the amount of single-use plastic bags given out by major retailers by an impressive 85 percent. The number of bags for the average person per year went down from 140 to 25!

“The fewer bags we use, the fewer we can lose, the fewer we can put into the environment,” said Thomas Maes of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, lead author of the paper. “If we all work together towards a better environment, we can make changes. A lot of people live in doom, but … don’t give up yet.”

The results of the study are more proof that plastic taxes do work and serve as a great reminder that when taken on a large scale, anti-plastic efforts can make a serious difference for the better. The plastic bag tax in the UK only currently applies to major retailers, but the government is considering extending it to all stores. A refundable charge for bottles and cans is also in the works in the country.

Every year, over 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans, but as this amazing news shows, we all have the power to reduce the amount that ends up in the marine environment by simple abstaining from plastic. To find out how you can help the planet by ditching disposable plastics – like single-use plastic bags – check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!

Image source: velkr0/Flickr

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