Skip to main content

War on plastic bags reaps positive results with 95% reduction since 2014

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: plastic, waste, Weekly stories

A plastic bag floating under water.

Today there is widespread media coverage of our announcement that the sale of single-use plastic carrier bags has plummeted by 95% in England’s main supermarkets since we introduced a 5p charge in 2015 - with positive coverage in the Daily Mail, The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, the Daily Express and the Evening Standard.

In the last year alone, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 226 million bags - 322 million fewer than in 2018/19 (59%).

This means the average person in England now buys just four bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 10 last year and 140 in 2014.

As a result of the charge, £178 million has been donated to charitable causes, with £9.2 million donated in the last year alone.

Welcoming the news, Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

It is so encouraging to see in such a short space of time the huge difference our plastic carrier bag charge has had in reducing the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives.

We have all seen first hand the devastating impact that plastic bags have on the environment, littering our beautiful countryside and threatening the world’s marine life. I am committed to driving this progress further and I hope this continues to inspire similar action across the globe.

The 5p charge currently applies to all retailers employing over 250 people, and government has consulted on extending this to all businesses as well as increasing the minimum charge to 10p. The formal response to this consultation will be published in due course.

Key government actions include a world-leading ban on microbeads, consulting on introducing a deposit return scheme to drive up the recycling of single-use drinks containers, and a ban on the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds which will come into force in October.

Follow Defra on Twitter, and sign up for email alerts here.


Sharing and comments

Share this page