Since a 5p charge was introduced on plastic bags in 2015, sales from England’s seven biggest retailers have fallen by 90%, new figures show.
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 – a drop of almost half on the previous year.
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.
“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,” said Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers.
“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.
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.
The 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.