Plastic bag use falls by 80 per cent in year since introduction of 5p charge

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 20 October 2015 in News

Bag charge sees 650 million fewer bags in circulation, raising around £6.7m for charity

Plastic bag use in Scotland has fallen by around 80 per cent in the year since the 5p charge was introduced, according to figures released by major retailers.

The 5p charge, which saw 650 million fewer bags in circulation, raised around £6.7m for charity.

Environment campaigners welcomed the news, while Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said it has now become “second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags”.


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Boots, Morrisons, the Co-operative and Waitrose all recorded an 80 per cent drop in use, with Asda reporting a fall of 90 per cent and Sainsburys a 100 per cent reduction of single use carrier bags as they no longer offer them to shoppers.

Lochhead said: “I thank Scotland for embracing this policy and showing we’re serious about tackling litter, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener environment for everyone to enjoy.

“It’s now becoming second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags and hopefully to think more about our impact on the environment. I am confident that Scotland is going to go from strength to strength in its bid to tidy up our streets and beaches, where litter has been a highly visible problem in the past.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to hear carrier bag usage in Scotland has dropped so significantly since the 5p charge was introduced. As well as removing millions of bags from circulation, it’s also great that millions of pounds have been raised for good causes across the country. 

"Before the charge Scotland consumed a staggering 800 million carrier bags every year, many of which ended up polluting our environment and threatening wildlife. As an additional benefit, less resource use also means fewer carbon emissions.”

Zero Waste Scotland chief executive Iain Gulland said: “With retailers in Scotland reporting a reduction of 80% in the use of single use carrier bags, it’s evident that Scottish shoppers have embraced a new shopping habit. It’s not always easy to change our habits, but Scotland is proving it has this in the bag.”

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