We were all pleased with the news last year that the 5p plastic bag charge had proven to be a huge success, with six billion fewer being used by shoppers in England since it was introduced. Not only does this ensure that our precious marine life is safer and our communities are cleaner, but also moves us closer to fulfilling our ambition to be the first generation to leave our environment in a better state than we found it.
However, I want us to go further and faster, to ensure that our children and our grandchildren inherit a world they can be proud of. Whilst we have succeeded in removing six billion plastic bags from the environment, littering still continues to blight many parts of our beautiful island – particularly in the towns and cities, but sadly also across our countryside where it can have real consequences for livestock and wild animals.
This is why I was delighted this week to unveil the first ever Litter Strategy for England earlier this week, setting out brand new measures to tackle this awful antisocial behaviour and making clear to litter louts that their disgusting actions will no longer be tolerated.
We will make it easier for people to responsibly and safely dispose of their rubbish, with more public litter bins across the country and a ban on councils charging households from disposing of DIY waste at civic rubbish dumps. I also want to see those who are caught littering helping councils to clear up litter and fly-tipped waste through community sentences, with the worst offenders hit where it hurts most – in their pockets.
It costs the taxpayer some £800 million to clean-up litter each year, and I am determined to do everything I can as Environment Secretary to reduce that burden.
You can read more about my announcement and the Litter Strategy for England here.