Single-use plastic bag use drops 97% in supermarkets since 2015

The 10p charge introduced in 2021 and extended to all businesses helped bring the number of bags used down by more than 20% over the last year

Big Zero Report 2022

The use of single-use plastic bags in major supermarkets have fallen by 97% since the introduction of a charge in 2015.

The 5p charge was initially introduced in supermarkets seven years ago and was increased to 10p and extended to all businesses last year.

This helped bring the number of bags used down by more than 20% – from 627 million in 2019/20 to 496 million in 2021/22.

The number of single-use carrier bags reported by the major retailers was 197 million in 2021 – down from 271 million in 2019/20.

More than £200 million has also been voluntarily donated by retailers to good causes since 2015.

Environment Minister Steve Double said: “Our plastic bag charge has ended the sale of billions of single-use bags, protecting our landscapes and ensuring millions of pounds is redistributed to worthy causes.

“There is much more to do to tackle the problem of plastic waste. That is why we are building on our single-use plastic bans and introducing the deposit return scheme for bottles to fight back against littering and drive up recycling rates.”

The latest statistics follow the government’s introduction of a plastic packaging tax earlier this year and the restriction of the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds.

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