Since 5 October 2015, large retailers in England have been required by law to charge 5p for all single use plastic carrier bags.
New data published by the UK government has revealed that, since the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge, sales of plastic shopping bags have dropped by 86% across the ‘big seven’ supermarkets. This amounts to 6.6 billion fewer bags, when 17/18 figures are compared with those from 14/15.
In 2017/18, the data suggests that the 7 main supermarket retailers sold 1.0 billion single use plastic carrier bags in England. This is down compared to 2016/17 figures of 1.3 billion bags, meaning between 16/17 and 17/18 there was a 22% decrease.
As a whole, the data seems to suggest that effective policy can help transform and shift consumer behaviour. Similar trends were also noted in a recent scientific study, which found a correlation between the introduction of a plastic bag charge and the reduction of overall plastic bag waste.