Plastic bag sales plummet 90% following 5p charge

31st July 2019


Web plastic bags istock 963098424 1

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Waste ,
  • Recycling

Author

Claire McGeechan

Plastic bags sales from the seven biggest retailers in England have fallen by 90% following the introduction of a 5p charge in 2015, new government figures have revealed.

Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose and the Co-op sold 549 million single-use plastic bags in 2018/19, which was 490 million fewer than the previous year.

And the average person in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 140 bags in 2014 before the 5p charge was introduced.

The figures also show that revenues from the charge have contributed around £169m towards charities and other good causes, with more than £22m raised in 2018/19 alone.

Overall, sales of single-use carrier bags from all large retailers fell by 37% to 1.1 billion in 2018/19.

Environment secretary, Theresa Villiers, said: “Our comprehensive action to slash plastic waste and leave our environment in a better state continues to deliver results.

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

The 5p charge is just one of several government initiatives to curb plastic waste.

It recently announced its intention to introduce a deposit return scheme for drink containers in 2023, and said that plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds will be banned in England from April 2020.

And its Resources and Waste strategy introduces new rules to ensure that producers pay the full cost of recycling and disposing their packaging.

However, Maddy Haughton-Boakes, litter campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that the 5p bag charge should apply to all small shops as well as larger ones.

“There is also absolutely no reason why the charge shouldn't be applied to all bags, paper as well as plastic, to bring an end to the use of single-use items altogether,“ she said.

“The continued reduction in plastic bag use in supermarkets is yet more evidence of the huge impact that a small financial incentive can have.“

Image credit: iStock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Interview: Andrew Winston on the many reasons for hope

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

Around 20% of the plastic recycled is polypropylene, but the diversity of products it protects has prevented safe reprocessing back into food packaging. Until now. David Burrows reports

3rd April 2024

Read more

IEMA presents a digital campaign to share knowledge and inspire action in sustainability

2nd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close