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England carrier bag usage in steep decline

The 5p levy introduced last year has driven an 85% drop in the use of carrier bags in England, latest figures show.

Figures published last week show that in the first six months since the charge was introduced, England used 500m carrier bags, falling from 7bn in the previous year. Defra was targeting an 80% drop as a result of the charge and these latest figures have been hailed as “fantastic news for all of us”, by newly appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Thérèse Coffey.

This positive impact of the 5p levy follows similar success seen in Wales and Scotland when they introduced this fee in 2011 and 2014 respectively. The aim of the levy was to reduce the 65,000 tonnes of plastic bags which end up in our landfill each year, decrease litter, save millions in clean-up costs and protect wildlife. The 5p charge has also resulted in nearly £30m of donations from retailers to charities, community groups and local initiatives.

Consumer habits are shifting

Retailers only need to comply with the charge if they have 250 or more full-time employees. This is to reduce the administrative burden on small and medium sized businesses, however they can charge on a voluntary basis if they so wish. More information can be found here.

Following early criticism from some members of the public and media outlets, it is clear to see the direct impact the levy has had on the overall use of single-use carrier bags in England, and the rest of the UK in fact. Consumer habit is now shifting towards bag-for-life options or keeping hold of used bags when people return for their weekly shop, all of which were ultimately the outcome the charge was looking to achieve.

ecosurety has a vast amount of experience in helping companies comply with 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

Policy manager

As policy manager, Robbie is responsible for liaising with government, regulators and industry organisations to represent our members’ views and interests. In previous roles, he helped to instigate market-based change and he brings that dynamism to his current role of influencing regulatory change. With years of experience working across a number of departments at Ecosurety, it’s fair to say he has an excellent understanding of producer compliance and recycling, which enables him to provide high-level policy expertise, industry insight and market analysis to our members.


Written by Robbie Staniforth Published 03/08/2016 Topics Compliance

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