Ministers praise ‘powerful’ 5p levy as plastic bag sales plummet by 90% since charge introduced

Posted On: 
1st August 2019

Shoppers in England are buying 90% fewer plastic bags than before the 5p charge was introduced in 2015, official figures have revealed.

Sales of plastic bags has plummeted since 2015
PA Images

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.

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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.