Shoppers buy just three carrier bags a year since charges introduced

We’ve turned the tide on plastic by 97%: Shoppers buy just three carrier bags a year since charges were introduced

  • Last year saw a dramatic fall when the 5p charge increased to 10p in May 2021
  • All businesses are now required to charge for single-use plastic carrier bags
  • The number used fell from 627million in 2019-2020 to 496million in 2021-2022

Charges on single-use plastic carrier bags have cut their usage by a staggering 97 per cent since 2014, statistics show.

And last year saw a particularly dramatic fall when the 5p charge increased to 10p in May 2021.

First introduced in large retail stores in October 2015, all businesses are now required to charge customers for single-use plastic carrier bags.

The number used fell by more than 20 per cent from 627million in 2019-2020 to 496million in 2021-2022, data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) shows.

England’s main supermarkets – Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose – sold 197million single-use plastic carrier bags in 2021-2022 compared with 271million sold in 2019-2020 – a reduction of 27 per cent.

Charges on single-use plastic carrier bags have cut their usage by a staggering 97 per cent since 2014, statistics show

This was also a 97 per cent reduction from the 7.64billion single-use bags handed out in England by the main retailers in 2014, the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) charity’s figures show.

Defra also revealed that a person in England now buys on average about three single-use carrier bags each year from the main supermarkets, compared with around 140 in 2014.

Back in 2008, the Daily Mail led calls for a crackdown on single-use plastic bags to help protect the planet, with the launch of its Banish The Bags campaign.

Environment minister Steve Double praised the paper’s ‘superb support’ of the charge, saying: ‘Mail readers will be well aware of the perils of plastic – it’s destructive for our wildlife and blights our towns, beaches and countryside. Our carrier bag charge – something the Mail has superbly long-shown support for – has been really successful in curbing plastic consumption and making people think twice about their purchases.

‘But there is still more we need to do. Through our world-leading plastic packaging tax and deposit return scheme for drinks containers, we are committed to turning the tide on plastic for good.’

In 2021-2022 data, 42 per cent of retailers also reported on how they chose to donate proceeds from the charge, giving a total of £10million to good causes.

Adam Herriott, from Wrap, said: ‘We’re now at a point where the tide is turning.

‘Today, nearly 5,000 stores nationwide have front-of-store collections where people can drop off their bags once they reach their end of life.’

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