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5p tax results in 86% reduction in plastic bag sales in supermarkets

plastic carrier bags

The Government have reported that sales of single-use plastic bags have dropped by 86% in England’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets since the implementation of a 5p charge in 2015.

Plastic bag taxes collected at the ‘big seven’ supermarkets; Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op and Waitrose, contributed nearly £60 million to charities and other causes during 2017/18.

The figures released today show that customers of the ‘big seven’ bought almost a quarter fewer plastic bags last year in comparison to 2016/17. This is a decrease of almost 300 million bags which would have otherwise ended up littering the world’s oceans according to environmental experts.

The figures show that the average customer bought just 19 bags in the past year, compared to the 140 bags purchased per person on average before the tax was implemented.

Government scientists have stated that the number of plastic bags in the ocean will have trebled by 2028 unless action is taken to tackle marine litter. It is estimated that one million birds and more than 100,000 million sea mammals die each year after eating or becoming trapped in marine litter.

The UK Government’s strategy for reducing plastic waste has also included a ban on microbeads, a future ban on the sale of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, a proposal for a plastic bottle deposit return scheme and the exploration of plastic-free aisles in supermarkets.

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