Plastic bag sales in England plunge 95% since 5p charge

Latest figures reveal Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 322m less bags last year

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Sales of plastic carrier bags in England’s main supermarkets have dropped by more than 95% since the 5p charge was introduced.

Latest figures reveal Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 226 million bags last year.

That’s 322 million – or 59% – less than in 2018/19 in the main supermarkets, with charities receiving £9.2 million last year alone and nearly £180 million since 2015.

According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 10 last year and 140 in 2014.

The 5p charge applies to all retailers employing more than 250 people and the government has consulted on extending this to all businesses as well as increasing the minimum charge to 10p.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “It is so encouraging to see in such a short space of time the huge difference our plastic carrier bag charge has had in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives.

“We have all seen first hand the devastating impact that plastic bags have on the environment, littering our beautiful countryside and threatening the world’s marine life. I am committed to driving this progress further and I hope this continues to inspire similar action across the globe.”

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