Ministers praise ‘powerful’ 5p levy as plastic bag sales plummet by 90% since charge introduced
Shoppers in England are buying 90% fewer plastic bags than before the 5p charge was introduced in 2015, official figures have revealed.
The average person now buys ten bags a year from the big seven UK supermarkets, down from 140 when they were free.
Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 549 million single-use plastic bags in 2018/19.
It represents a drop of almost half on the previous year - when 1.04 billion were sold - according to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs.
The total number of bags sold by all big retailers fell by 37% to 1.11 billion in the 12 months to March.
The statistics also found that 5p sales had contributed to around £169m for charities and other good causes since the levy was brought in – with more than £22 million raised in 2018/19 alone.
Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers welcomed the figures as a sign that the country was “calling time on being a throwaway society”.
“No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife,” she said.
“Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”
Meanwhile, The Times has revealed that the number of disposable cups being used in Parliament has dropped by three-quarters since the introduction of a so-called "latte levy".
The number of single-use cups given out in the cafés of Westminster has fallen from 58,000 to 15,000 per month since the 25p charge was introduced in October.