Plastic bag usage drops 59% since 2019, research finds

Plastic bags waste recycling
Plastic bag usage dropped since 5p charge was introduced in 2015
// Plastic bag use has dropped 59% in just a year
// Since 2015, sales of plastic bags have dropped 95% in big grocers

New research has found that the use of plastic bags in England has dropped by 59 per cent in just a year as shoppers reused their own bags.

Sales of single-use carrier bags have dropped by 95 per cent in main supermarkets since introduction of 5p charge in October of 2015, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Over the past year, grocers including Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op, Tesco and Waitrose sold 226 million bags, which were 322 million fewer than in 2018-19.


Defra found that the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 10 last year.

The 5p charge was introduced in England to help reduce plastic waste after seven major supermarkets witnessed consumers’ plastic bag usage rise by by 200 million in 2014.

The charge applies to all retailers that employ more than 250 staff.

However, the government is currently discussing whether to extend this to all businesses while also increasing the minimum price to 10p per bag.

“It is 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,” he said.

“I am committed to driving this progress further and I hope this continues to inspire similar action across the globe.”

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  1. Increase it to 10p? Why not increase it to 50p? That’ll actually make some change and save the oceans over-polluted with plastic.


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