Sales of single-use plastic bags down 90 per cent since 5p charge

New figures published yesterday (31 July) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reveal that sales of single-use plastic bags in England have fallen by 90 per cent since the introduction of the five pence charge in 2015.

The seven biggest retailers in England – Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose – sold 490 million fewer single-use plastic bags in 2018/19 compared to the previous year. The largest reductions came from Tesco and Morrisons, which reduced their plastic bag sales by 63 per cent and 64 per cent respectively.

According to the new figures, the average person in England buys just 10 bags per year, compared to 140 in 2014.

Since the charge was introduced on 5 October 2015, sales from the five pence charge have contributed around £169 million (€186 million) toward charities, with more than £22 million (€24 million) raised in 2018/19 alone.