The UK has committed to several actions in order to combat marine litter, including reducing the volume of single use plastic bags and the introduction of national litter strategies. The UK completed a consultation on proposals to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products which cause harm to the marine environment in February 2017 and will use the responses received to inform our approach. Our consultation also asked for evidence on other sources of marine microplastics.
The evidence received will help develop future UK actions on marine litter. We have also just published a National Litter Strategy for England covering education, enforcement and infrastructure to help substantially reduce litter and littering behaviour. A reduction in litter and littering on land will lead to a reduction in the amount of litter reaching the marine environment. Scotlands 2014 Marine Litter Strategy and Northern Irelands 2013 Marine Litter Strategy also set out actions to reduce litter entering the sea. England has introduced a 5p plastic bag charge which has led to six billion fewer single-use bags given out last year, a decrease of 85%. Scotland, Wales and NI introduced plastic bag charges earlier, resulting in a similar reduction in consumption (around 80%). We have also signed up to the UN Clean Seas Initiative.
Adoption of National Litter Strategy
5 pence charge for all single-use plastic carrier bags introduced
Signup to the UN Clean Seas initiative
Outcome of UK consultation on proposed ban on microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products