Bags Trends

Plastic Bag Sales in England Down by a Third in Last Year

Overall, sales of single-use bags by big supermarkets have fallen 90% since 5p charge introduced.

Shoppers’ use of plastic carrier bags in England has continued to fall following the introduction of the 5p charge, according to new figures. Sales of single-use bags by all large retailers in 2018/2019 slumped by 37% to 1.11bn compared with the previous year.

Sales of plastic bags by the seven biggest supermarkets – Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose – have plummeted by 90% since the levy was introduced in October 2015.

The average consumer in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, according to the new data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), down from 140 bags in 2014 before the charge came into force.

550m single-use plastic bags were sold by the UK’s seven main retailers in 2018-19.

The new environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “Our comprehensive action to slash plastic waste and leave our environment in a better state continues to deliver results, with our 5p charge reducing plastic bag sales by 90% in the big supermarkets.

“No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife. Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”

The charge was introduced in England to help reduce litter, protect wildlife and influence consumer behaviour after the number of carriers bags given out by the seven major supermarkets rose by 200m in 2014. At the time, consumers were using more than 7.6bn bags a year, amounting to 61,000 tonnes of plastic.



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