Modbury's example inspired communities across the country to attempt the same thing, and led to a national debate about whether all shoppers in the UK should pay a levy to deter plastic bag use.
By the time Modbury became a national name, the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, South Africa, Zanzibar and at least one state in India (Karnataka) had already banned distribution of single-use plastic bags, while the environment minister of Rwanda suggested using such bags was breaking environmental protection laws.
Meanwhile, Ireland introduced a levy of 15 euro cents (now 22c) a bag, slashing plastic bag use from 328 bags per person a year to just 18 last year – and cutting plastic bags from 5% of litter to a quarter of 1%.
Since then Kenya, Uganda, several more Indian states and China have introduced bans, while many European retailers charge for bags.
As with so many environmental "improvements", however, banning and charging for plastic bags has not been without controversy: earlier this year an unpublished report by the Environment Agency was leaked, showing that popular alternatives to plastic bags needed to be used many times over to generate less carbon pollution: paper bags at least four times, and cotton bags more than 171 times over.
That has not stopped the momentum, however. In May the European commission launched a consultation on an EU-wide ban. And in October Wales introduced a 5p charge a bag, which it hopes will cut use by 90%.
(c) The Guardian