Plastic bag use continues to fall in England

Since the introduction of the 5p charge for plastic bags in supermarkets back in 2015, there has been a 95% drop in sales of single-use carrier bags reported by main supermarkets.

In this last year alone there has been a 59% fall in the sale of single-use carrier bags. According to Government data, 226 million bags were sold in the past 12 months across Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and the Co-operative Group. This total is 332 million bags fewer than in 2018-2019. Whilst this further fall in the sale of single-use plastic bags is welcomed there is still much work to be done to address the environmental issues caused by plastic waste.

It is 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.

Sales of plastic carrier bags are down by 322m, which is positive and sounds a lot, but sales of ‘bags for life’ rose to 1.5bn in 2018. And bags for life contain more plastic than carrier bags do. To deter people from using bags for life like throwaways, the Government should increase the cost of bags for life, which successfully led to decreased sales in the Republic of Ireland, or ideally should ban them.”

With UK supermarkets using 900,000 tonnes of plastic, we urgently need reductions in plastic packaging across every aisle of the supermarket, as well as at checkout.