Anti-litter charity Keep Britain Tidy has revealed that plastic bag litter in England went up in the last year.
The group's research revealed the results of its annual survey of the state of the nation's streets, carried out on behalf of the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs.
The study measured the percentage of the 7,200 monitored sites across the country which were ‘below an acceptable standard'. In all, plastic bag waste contributed to 12% of those sites in 2014/5, up from 10% in 2013/4.
However plastic bag litter was only the 10th worst contributing factor to litter. The worst was smokers' materials.
Overall plastic bag litter - all retail plastic bags including both branded and non-branded bags, together with both single-use and multi-use supermarket chain plastic bags - saw a significant decrease from 12% of sites affected in 2006 to just under 8% of sites in 2012.
Yet a significant increase in plastic bag litter was seen between 2012 and 2013 where it rose to 10% of sites. The increase in all plastic bags recorded between 2012 and 2013 is driven by the increase in ‘other retail' and ‘nonbranded' bags (branded retail bags other than those issued by supermarkets and plastic bags that contain no brand) rather than supermarket bags.
Keep Britain Tidy chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton, added: “With the rise in carrier-bag litter, large retailers in England now charge 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags.
“It will be interesting to see how much this contributes to a reduction in the amount of highly-visible carrier bag litter blowing about; litter that does so much environmental damage, especially when it reaches the marine environment.”
The study concluded: “It is unlikely that local authority budgets for street cleansing will be increased in the foreseeable future, so it is important that all of those groups involved in reducing litter continue to work together in partnership so that people can enjoy a litter-free environment throughout the country.”