5p charge cuts Welsh carrier-bag use by 80%

19th July 2013


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  • Waste ,
  • Minimisation ,
  • Retail and wholesale

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IEMA

The number of plastic carrier bags given to shoppers in Wales has fallen by 80% following the introduction of a 5p charge, reveals Wrap

More than 8 billion single-use carrier bags were issued by supermarket customers in the UK during 2012, 1.3% more than in 2011, according to the latest figures collated by Wrap.

Shoppers across the country used an average of 10.7 carriers each month confirms the data, up from 10.5 in 2011 and 10.1 in 2010. Overall, the weight of the carrier bags used in 2012 totalled 60,200 tonnes.

However, the increase has been offset somewhat by a dramatic reduction in the number of bags being used in Wales since the introduction of the 5p charge for single-use carriers on 1 October 2011.

In 2012, the first full year of the charge, Welsh shoppers were given 70 million bags. In 2010, the figure was 270 million, meaning the charge has helped to reduce use by 80%. On average, Welsh shoppers used just 1.8 bags each month in 2012, compared with 9.7 a month before the charge.

Alun Davis, Welsh minister for natural resources, said the figures confirmed that introducing a mandatory charge for bag does change shoppers’ behaviour.

“[The data] supports what we already know, which is that in the run up to the introduction of the charge, and since its implementation people in Wales have drastically changed the way they shop,” he said.

“The charge has encouraged shoppers to develop much more sustainable habits, and to move away from the practice of unnecessarily accepting new bags every time they are at the till.”

Northern Ireland introduced a 5p charge for carrier bags on 8 April 2013 and the devolved government in Scotland plans to bring in a similar charge in October 2014.

In England, where close to 90% of UK carrier bags are used, there are no plans to introduce a similar charge. Wrap’s figures reveal that since 2010 carrier usage in England has risen 12%.

While carrier bag usage has increased in recent years the number being used remains far below that of 2006 when UK shoppers used 12.4 billion bags, an average of 16.7 a month.


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