Thanks to a 5 pence (6 cent) charge on single-use plastic grocery bags in the U.K, the British government has forecast there will be 6 billion fewer bags in circulation and a boost to the environment - but why stop there?
"Taking six billion plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us – it will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won't be saddled with mountains of plastic sat taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites," environment minister Therese Coffey said in a statement.
"The 5p charge has clearly been a huge success – not only for our environment but for good causes across the country that have benefited from an impressive £29 million raised," Coffey added.
The environmental impact of plastic bags is significant. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says that animals can both mistake them for food and get tangled up in them. This can cause a range of problems, including infections, strangulation and in serious cases death.
"We are delighted to see that the bag charge in England is showing positive results," the MCS's Sue Kinsey said in a statement. "This is a significant reduction that will benefit the environment as a whole, and our sea life in particular."
Charging consumers for plastic bags is nothing new, however. In Ireland, for example, a plastic bag levy has been in place since 2002. Following the introduction of the charge – initially 15 cent (17 cents) a bag compared to 22 cent today – plastic bag usage fell from around 328 bags per capita to just 21, according to the Irish government. That figure fell to 14 bags per capita in 2014.
Now that the plastic bag charge has proved to be a success in the U.K., could we see charges for other types of packaging introduced?
"Charges for single use coffee cups would also change people's behavior, but also their perception that the item they have has a value," Laura Foster, head of pollution at the MCS, told CNBC via email.