Plastic bag sales down by 95 percent since 2015’s 5p charge

A plastic Union Flag bag is carried by a shopper on December 27, 2018 in London, England.
Jack Taylor/Getty Images/File Photo

Plastic carrier bag sales have plummeted by more than 95 per cent in England’s major supermarkets since the introduction of 5p charge in 2019, latest government data has revealed.

The year on year decline at the seven multiples – Asda, Co-op, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – has been a whopping 59 per cent.

The average person in England now buys just four bags a year from these retailers, compared with 10 last year and 140 in 2014.

“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,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

“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.”

Charities received £178 million since 2015, with £9.2 million donated in the last year alone, as a result of the charge.

The government is consulting on increasing the minimum charge to 10p as well as extending it to all retailers in England. The charge currently applies to retailers employing over 250 people.

Nearly half (46%) of the convenience retailers have a voluntary plastic bag charge in place, according to the ACS Voice of Local Shops survey in 2019.