New figures released today by Defra show a further 2.3% increase in single-use carrier bag usage to shocking 8.5 billion across the UK. This is undeniable evidence of why the imminent introduction of a carrier bag charging scheme is so crucial.
With over 140 single-use carrier bags used per capita in England last year, the scheme can’t come soon enough.
The scheme will be introduced on 5th October 2015, applying to plastic bags given out by large retailers. Universal charging schemes, where the charge applies to all bags and all retailers, are already in place in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, which each scheme delivering significant reductions in use.
By reducing the number of bags given out, the amount of unnecessary waste we create is reduced. And with far less bags in circulation, there is far less chance of them ending up as litter, choking our rural, marine and urban areas with a product that won’t decompose for hundreds of years.
Andy Cummins, on behalf of the Break the Bag Habit coalition: With bags choking our rural, marine and urban areas, it is great that the Government has sought to put a solution in place in England to deal with this gross overuse of bags. The next logical step is to extend the charge to all materials and all retailers across the UK, so that the scheme can be as effective as possible and less confusing to consumers and retailers.
Six months after the English scheme launches in October, the Government will have preliminary figures on how much usage has reduced. We hope ministers take this as an opportunity to review the scheme, and seek to create a universal bag charge during the second year of its operation.