• World

The War on Plastic Bags

1 minute read

The U.K. introduced a controversial 5-pence ($0.08) tax Oct. 5 on every plastic bag, joining other places where lawmakers have tried to curb the use of the nonbiodegradable polyethylene bags:


Introduced a tax as long ago as 1994 to encourage stores to charge for plastic bags. By 2014, Denmark had the lowest plastic-bag use in Europe, with each resident using an average of just four a year.


Became the first country to ban plastic bags completely in 2002 after some of the 9 million bags discarded daily were found to have blocked sewers, causing deadly floods.


In 2008 instituted a ban so strict that officials confiscate plastic bags at airport customs and issue $150 fines to people caught using them. Smugglers selling bags on the black market risk fines of over $400.


Was due to introduce the U.S.’s first state-wide ban on plastic bags in July, but opponents in the plastics industry secured enough signatures to put the ban on the ballot in November 2016.

–Naina Bajekal

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Naina Bajekal at naina.bajekal@time.com