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CPRE welcomes big decrease in plastic bag use

On Friday (21 July) the Government announced the latest figures for single use plastic bags in England. It reported that bag usage is down by 9 billion – or 83% - from 2015-16. 

Samantha Harding, litter programme director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), reflected on the latest statistics:

“It is fantastic to see that the huge reduction in bag use has been sustained since the scheme was introduced over 18 months ago. Over time, it will have a positive effect on the disastrous plastic pollution in our seas and countryside, and it proves that the public support environmental incentives.”

The scheme, however, is still limited to major retailers and plastic bags. 

Samantha continued: “It is important that we extend the good work to all bags. Small retailers, franchises and paper bags are still unaffected by the charge, meaning companies such as Subway and McDonald's whose packaging is often littered are not caught out. Now the charge is proven to work, it makes sense to extend it as soon as possible.”

On the wider issue of environmental incentives for the public, Samantha said

“Michael Gove, the new Defra secretary, spoke for many when he said he would like to see a deposit return system for drinks containers introduced in England as soon as possible. Deposit return schemes work well for industry, councils and the public in countries around the world, and will do so here. 

“Scottish ministers are shortly launching the design of their scheme. Clearly the game's up for lax and outdated attitudes to wasting valuable drinks containers.”

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