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New figures show carrier bag charge in England will have huge impact on unnecessary waste

24 July 2015

Break the Bag Habit coalition responds to WRAP figures showing yet another English increase in plastic bag usage

WRAP have today released their new figures for plastic bag usage in the UK in 2014. The figures show that 200 million more plastic bags were used by customers of major supermarkets in the UK than the previous year. The 2.3% increase to 8.5bn thin gauge plastic bags, which can largely be accounted for by yet another rise in plastic bag usage in England, provides further justification for welcoming the imminent English bag charge in October. Northern Ireland first introduced a 5p carrier bag charge in April 2013, and has seen per capita usage fall from 8.8 per month in 2012 to 1.6 per month in 2014.

The English scheme will be introduced on 5 October 2015, applying to plastic bags given out by large retailers. Universal charging schemes, where the charge applies to all bags and all retailers, are already in place in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, which each scheme delivering significant reductions in use. With 11.7 carrier bags used per capita per month in England last year, the scheme can’t come soon enough.

By reducing the number of bags given out, the amount of unnecessary waste we create is reduced. And with far fewer bags in circulation, there is far less chance of them ending up as litter and spoiling and damaging our environment.

On behalf of the Break the Bag Habit coalition, CPRE’s Stop the Drop campaign manager Samantha Harding says:

“The WRAP figures released today are undeniable evidence of why the imminent introduction of a carrier bag charging scheme is so crucial in England. Schemes across the UK have delivered significant reductions in use since implementation, and saved the UK from an even bigger increase through unnecessary waste in England.

“With bags choking our rural, marine and urban areas, it is great that the Government has sought to put a solution in place in England to deal with this gross overuse of bags. The next logical step is to extend the charge to all materials and all retailers across the UK, so that the scheme can be as effective as possible and less confusing to consumers and retailers.

“Six months after the English scheme launches in October, the Government will have preliminary figures on how much usage has reduced. We hope ministers take this as an opportunity to review the scheme, and seek to create a universal bag charge during the second year of its operation.”

The Break The Bag Habit coalition consists of: CPRE; Greener Upon Thames; Keep Britain Tidy; Surfers Against Sewage; Thames21.


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