Seven UK retailers report 90% decline in single-use plastic bags sales

1 August 2019 (Last Updated August 1st, 2019 12:31)

Seven major retailers in the UK have reported a 90% decline in the sales of single-use plastic bags in 2018-2019.

Seven UK retailers report 90% decline in single-use plastic bags sales
Compostable carrier bags introduced by Co-op at Weatherfield, UK. Credit: Co-operative Group Limited.

Seven major retailers in the UK have reported a 90% decline in the sales of single-use plastic bags in 2018-2019.

The reduction in sales follows the introduction of 5p charge on 5 October 2015, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The retailers comprise Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose.

The study noted that the retailers sold a total of 490 million fewer single-use plastic bags during 2018 and 2019.

According to the report, an average person currently buys just ten bags a year from the seven supermarkets, compared with 140 bags in 2014.

The total sales of single-use carrier bags declined by 37% to 1.11 billion across all large retailers during 2018 and 2019.

UK Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Our comprehensive action to slash plastic waste and leave our environment in a better state continues to deliver results, with our 5p charge reducing plastic bag sales by 90% in the big supermarkets.

“No-one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife. Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”

In addition, the report has revealed that the sales of 5p plastic bags contributed around £169m, including more than £22m raised since last year, toward charities and other causes since its introduction.

In order to address plastic pollution, the UK Government will also introduce a new tax on plastic packaging, which does not meet a minimum threshold of at least 30% recycled content, from April 2022.