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Marine plastic bag pollution in decline

The volume of plastic bag pollution in seas around the UK has fallen during the past eight years, government adviser the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has said.

Its research into the composition of marine plastic litter found fewer bags than in 2010, which it said could be a consequence of the 5p levy imposed on them in 2015.

But Cefas said the overall amount of plastic litter in the sea had remained static due to the presence of other items such as fishing debris.

It said plastic was commonly observed across all sea areas. During the 1992–2017 period, 63% of Cefas’s 2,461 trawls had contained at least one plastic litter item.

Cefas marine litter scientist Thomas Maes said: “We observed sharp declines in the percentage of plastic bags as captured by fishing nets trawling the sea floor around the UK compared with 2010. This research suggests that, by working together, we can reduce, reuse and recycle to tackle the marine litter problem.”

Friends of the Earth plastics campaigner Julian Kirby said: “It’s great that the bag levy appears to have cut plastic bags in our seas, but much tougher action is needed if we are to turn the tide on the huge plastic pollution crisis – including micro-plastics – swamping our marine environment.”

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