Plastic bag sales plummet 90%

Newly released figures by seven of England’s biggest retailers highlight sales of single-use plastic bags continue to fall.

490 million fewer single-use plastic bags were sold in 2018/19 by the seven biggest retailers, nearly half the amount sold in the previous year and 90% less since the 5p charge was introduced in 2015.

The figures were reported by Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose and illustrate that the average person in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared to 140 bags in 2014.

When considering carrier bag sales by all large retailers in 2018/19, the total is 1.11 billion, a reduction of 37% compared to the previous year.

£169 million contribution to charities

The 5p plastic bag sales have also contributed £169 million to charities and good causes since October 2015 when the charge was brought in.

Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is tackled. One million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers commented “Our comprehensive action to slash plastic waste and leave our environment in a better state continues to deliver results, with our 5p charge reducing plastic bag sales by 90% in the big supermarkets.”

“No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife. Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”

Head of policy at Ecosurety, Robbie Staniforth, commented “While this legislation was introduced a little later than it was needed, it is impressive nonetheless to see the affect it is having on decreasing the number of single-use bags being sold."

"Later in the year, we hope to see further improvements following our submission to the public consultation on this issue.”

Ecosurety can help track your progress towards a reduction in plastic packaging with our data management services, find out more here.

Ben Luger

Marketing projects specialist

Ben joined the team at the beginning of 2015 and helps drive marketing communications and projects for Ecosurety, including project managing the launch of the Ecosurety Exploration Fund and website content development.

Written by Ben Luger Published 31/07/2019 Topics Packaging
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