Plastic bag use down 98% after 5p charge introduction

There has been a huge drop from the 7.6bn plastic bags sold by the major supermarkets in England in 2014

Seven of the major supermarkets in England have seen a 98% fall in the use of single-use plastic bags since the introduction of the 5p charge.

Latest figures reveal the number of single-use carrier bags sold by the main retailers was 133 million in 2022/23 – down from 197 million in 2021/22, representing a 33% reduction.

The figures are also a huge drop from the 7.6 billion plastic bags sold by Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose in 2014.

Supermarkets in England initially introduced the 5p charge per carrier bag in 2015, which was increased to 10p and rolled out across all businesses in 2021.

That helped bring the number of bags used down by more than 35% from 627 million in 2019/20 to 406 million in 2022/23.

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Our charge has helped to stop billions of single-use carrier bags littering our neighbourhoods or heading to landfill while ensuring millions of pounds go to good causes.

“We are determined to do more to tackle plastic pollution at source, with further bans on single-use products starting in October and our deposit return scheme will cut litter and drive up recycling rates. We continue to encourage all relevant retailers to play their part in further reducing the use of single-use carrier bags.”

The retailers have also voluntarily donated more than £206 million from the proceeds to good causes in the environment, education, health, arts, sports, heritage and volunteering sectors since the introduction of the charge.

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