Plastic bag sales down by 90% since introduction of 5p charge

Suella Braverman, Member of Parliament for Fareham, has welcomed latest government figures which reveal that the sale of plastic bags by the seven biggest retailers in England have fallen by 90% since the 5p charge was introduced in 2015.

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 (549 million) – a drop of almost half on the previous year.

According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the average person in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 140 bags in 2014 before the charge was introduced.

Welcoming today’s figures, 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.”

The total single-use carrier bag sales reported by all large retailers in 2018/2019 fell 37% to 1.11 billion compared with the previous year.

Mrs Braverman described today’s figures as a “boost for the land and marine environment in and around Fareham”. She said:

“As an MP who represents a coastal constituency, I am acutely aware of the negative impact that plastic is having on the marine environment as well as on land. The 5p plastic bag charge has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of bags being bought, which means there are hundreds of millions fewer bags in existence. This is a real boost for the land and marine environments in and around Fareham which need to be protected.

“This builds on other action the Government is taking to clamp down on plastics entering the environment, including a ban on microplastics and plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, and the bringing forward of proposals to introduce deposit return schemes whereby consumers are rewarded for returning plastic bottles to the shops.

“The 5p charge has also raised tens of millions of pounds for charities, which means consumers are funding worthwhile charitable projects all around the country while helping to protect the environment.”

Government scientists believe plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is tackled. One million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

Today’s figures reveal 5p plastic bag sales have also contributed around £169 million toward charities and other good causes since the charge was introduced on 5 October 2015, with more than £22 million raised in 2018/19 alone.