Plastic bag sales in ‘big seven’ supermarkets down 86% since 5p charge

Plastic bag sales in England’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets have dropped by 86% since the Government introduced its 5p plastic bag charge in 2015.

New Government figures reveal customers of the country’s biggest supermarkets bought nearly a quarter fewer plastic bags last year compared to 2016/17 – a decrease of nearly 300 million bags.

This is equivalent to 19 bags per person in England, compared to 140 bags since the government introduced a 5p charge in 2015 – a reduction of 86%.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘These figures demonstrate the collective impact we can make to help the environment by making simple changes to our daily routines.

‘We want businesses to continue to look at what they can do to help improve our environment to leave it in a better state than we found it.’

‘It is only by working together we will reverse the rising tide of plastic waste finding its way into our rivers, seas and oceans and the catastrophic impact this is having on our marine environment.

A recent study by Cefas revealed since the 5p charge on plastic bags was introduced, which has taken over 9 billion plastic bags out of circulation, there has been an estimated 50% reduction in plastic bag marine litter.

Thomas Maes, marine litter scientist at Cefas added: ‘Every plastic bag not purchased is one which will not end up in our sea, damaging habitats or harming marine life.

‘Since efforts from across Europe came into effect, including the UK’s 5p charge, we have observed a sharp decline in the percentage of plastic bags captured by fishing nets on our trawl surveys of the seafloor around the UK as compared to 2010.’

The Government has also revealed that for 2017/18, 5p plastic bag sales contributed nearly £60m toward charities and other good causes.

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Thomas Barrett

Thomas Barrett

Journalist. Follow him on Twitter

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