Since 2015, when the 5p charge was introduced, the sale of single-use plastic bags has dropped by 97%. Between 2021 and 2022 there was a 20% drop when this charge was raised to 10p. Not only was the price increased, but the charge was extended to all businesses where it had previously only applied to supermarkets.
It was recorded by Defra, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that this 20% decrease has meant that 496 million plastic bags were sold between 2021 and 2022, which is a significant drop from the 627 million purchased between 2019 and 2022.
In the main supermarkets, which includes Asda, the Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, they have seen a 27% reduction in the sale of single use plastic carrier bags. This is from 271 million being sold between 2019 and 2020 to 197 million between 2021 and 2022
Government figures have suggested that the average shopper in the England only buys three single use carrier bags a year. In 2014 this figure stood at 140 bags.
Some green groups such as Greenpeace and A Plastic Planet, have claimed that ‘bags for life’ have an increased impact on our environment. These groups claim that on average each household has 57 of these bags and they buy a new one when they leave theirs at home.
Megan Corton Scott, Greenpeace’s political campaigner, has renamed them ‘bags for a week’, as many people are opting to use them like a single-use carrier bag. She warns that as these bags are made from a more durable and thicker plastic, they have a greater environmental impact when they breakdown.