Pirate FM News

Calls For A Further Crack Down On Plastic Bags

Plastic bag (microscopic)

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 4:09pm 8th December 2015

A Plymouth academic is urging us to do more to solve the plastic bag problem.

The leading marine scientist has welcomed news that government legislation on charges for plastic bags has led to a substantial reduction in their use.

Richard Thompson, Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University, has been studying the effects of plastic litter on the marine environment for over 20 years, and his work has informed policies on plastic bag legislation in the UK, Europe, Australia and United States.

He said figures released by supermarket giant Tesco - showing a 78% reduction in plastic bag use - demonstrate a growing realisation that short term use of plastic items can be avoided.

However, on its own he said the bag tax would not solve the problem of plastic litter in the environment and that to achieve this, manufacturers also need to look at the items taken home in our shopping bags and establish a wider range of ways to reduce the accumulation of packaging waste.

This would require designing to maximise recyclability as well as reusability, coupled with consumer education to promote responsible disposal of end-of-life plastics.

The 5p levy was introduced by the government at the beginning of October, in an attempt to reduce the use of single-use carrier bags and the litter they can cause.

Professor Thompson said: "The news that a leading UK supermarket declared an almost 80% reduction in the number of bags being requested by its customers confirms single-use plastic bags can be avoided. Globally we produce over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year and around 40% is for single-use items, including plastic bags. These items have a short life-in-service, but will then persist in the environment as waste for years to come, hence the accumulation of end-of life plastic items presents a major challenge for waste management and as litter in the natural environment."

Over the past decade, Professor Thompson has published dozens of papers on plastic debris in the environment; including work demonstrating that plastic bags are slow to degrade in the sea, can be harmful to wildlife and affect marine habitats compromising ecosystem services.

His research has also shown that in the environment plastic items, including bags, can fragment into millions of tiny particles - which he and colleagues refer to as 'microplastics' - which can be ingested by a range of organisms, potentially damaging them.

Professor Thompson added: "It is sometimes suggested that biodegradable plastics are a solution, however designing plastic that would fulfil its life in service, but could somehow recognise when it has ceased to be useful and so begin to rapidly degrade, would be very challenging. As a consequence most biodegradable plastics are slow to degrade and need specific environmental conditions to do so, typically requiring, light heat and oxygen. In short, biodegradable plastics are not a solution to the problem of marine litter and in this regard we need to think very carefully about any exemptions to the 5p charge, or our legislation will fall short of the mark."

some great deals from pirate fm

Contact Us

If you would like to submit a query or provide more information on this story please get in touch below.

Please wait...
  • Up to 3 JPG or PNG images, 2MB max size
  • We will always endeavour to credit you when we publish your pictures.
  • By uploading you are agreeing to this non-exclusive reuse, royalty-free, across all Pirate FM platforms, which extends to our partner broadcasters.
  • You retain copyright to all images.
  • If you would like to send us a video, please upload to YouTube or similar and paste the video URL into the message above.
Email Icon

Sign up for exclusive news, competitions and offers.
Proper Local News updates from Pirate FM

Suggested articles

Now That's what I Call Music is the soundtrack to my life

Showbiz News: The 100th Now That's What I Call Music compilation is released on Friday.

Major search operation triggered by hoax call

Cornwall News: Crews had reports of fallen casualty at Crantock

Trending in Cornwall

WATCH: Chance of a heatwave for Cornwall rises

It stands at 80% but our alert stays at 'Level 2'

Water warning as hot weather grips Cornwall

Check the advice for your home and in the garden

Toddler suffers horrific burns after a beach BBQ

Three-year-old Freddie fell on hot sand at Holywell

PHOTOS: More acid washes up on a busy Cornish beach

This is the second container found in a week

Fears for a young man missing near Truro

Simon Trevaskis has not been seen for four days

WATCH: Blue sharks off Cornwall & how to swim with them

More than a dozen spotted during trip off Penzance

‘Serious’ police incident on the A30 in Cornwall

A reported collision closed a stretch all night

Search for missing 16-year-old boy in Cornwall

UPDATE: Daniel's family confirms he is found

WATCH: The run of sun returns for Cornwall

A Met Office heatwave alert remains in force

PHOTOS: Huge jellyfish in Cornwall estuary

More have been seen as the run of sun returns

More news...

Pirate Extra Pirate 70s Escape LoveCornwall