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Early success as carrier bag usage plummets since 5p charge

All those balancing acts of carrying shopping out of stores without bags and reusing old carriers seems to be paying off!

The number of plastic bags being used by consumers at Tesco stores has fallen by almost 80%, new data has shown.

The 5p carrier bag charge was introduced on 5 October this year in a bid to cut the 7.6 billion plastic bags handed out to consumers in 2014. This equates to 61,000 tonnes of plastic, much of which was ending up in landfill.

Decrease in usage

Tesco has not revealed how many bags it has purchased since the charge was introduced but has reported a decrease in usage of 78%. As well as this, the retailer also reported seeing a 50% increase in the number of bagless deliveries from those buying their shopping online. These figures from the first month show that Tesco is on track to reach the £30 million target for charity. 

England was the last part of the UK to adopt the charge, with Wales introducing it in 2011 and Scotland’s charge coming into effect last October. Both countries have seen a reduction in carrier bag usage by 79% and 80% respectively. It is very early stages but it looks like the decrease in carrier bags handed out in England is set to be in line with the decline seen across Wales and Scotland.

Great news for the UK

The charge received criticism from some members of the public and other stakeholders in the first instance, but this is great news for the UK, and shows the charge is clearly working with more money now being raised for good causes and a decrease in plastic bags polluting the environment.

ecosurety has a vast amount of experience in helping companies comply by environmental legislation. If you need any advice or want to know more just get in touch by emailing packaging@ecosurety.com or calling 0845 094 2228.


Robbie Staniforth

Innovation and policy director

Robbie is innovation and policy director at Ecosurety. Having spent years building an intimate understanding of the industry’s policies and politics, he uses this knowledge to help shape new legislation and oversees Ecosurety’s growing portfolio of cross-industry innovation projects including Podback and the Flexible Plastic Fund. He has worked closely with Defra during the most recent packaging consultations, outlining the impacts and required transitional arrangements of the UK’s new EPR system and is a member of the government’s Advisory Committee on Packaging (ACP). He is also a spokesperson for the company and regularly uses his influence to communicate the importance of environmental responsibility to external stakeholders.


Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 11/12/2015 Topics Compliance

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