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    HomeClimate ChangeSingle-use plastic bags decreased by 98% in UK since 2014 – Study

    Single-use plastic bags decreased by 98% in UK since 2014 – Study

    More than seven billion plastic bags have been prevented from polluting the UK landscape since the introduction of the single-use carrier bag charge.

    A 5p charge was first introduced in supermarkets in 2015. Since then, usage at the main retailers – Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose – has dropped by more than 98%.

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    Research revealed by the UK Government shows the average person in England now buys just two single-use carrier bags a year from these businesses, compared with around 140 in 2014 before the charge was introduced.

    Reports shows the number of single-use carrier bags sold by the main retailers was 133 million in 2022/23, down from 197 million in 2021/2022, representing a reduction of 33%. This is seen as a huge drop from the 7.6 billion used in 2014.

    Plastic waste in the UK. Photo Credit: Enviro News

    In 2021, the charge was increased to 10p and extended to all businesses. This has helped bring the number of bags used down by more than 35% from 627 million in 2019/20 to 406 million in 2022/23.

    Meanwhile, retailers have voluntarily donated more than £206 million from the proceeds to good causes in education, arts, heritage, sports, environment, health and charity or volunteering sectors since the charge’s introduction.

    Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow, said: “We are determined to do more to tackle plastic pollution at source, with further bans on single-use products starting in October and our deposit return scheme will cut litter and drive up recycling rates. We continue to encourage all relevant retailers to play their part in further reducing the use of single-use carrier bags.”

    Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers have worked closely with the government over the single-use bag charges to ensure it has been an industry-wide success – with 98% fewer bags used across the biggest grocery retailers. It has also generated millions in funds that retailers have donated to a variety of good causes.”

    A range of polluting single-use plastics will be banned in England from October 1, 2023. The restrictions will include single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

    Find out more here.

    Courtesy: Climate Action

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