Customers shopping on have also dramatically reduced the number of bags they use, with the number of online shoppers selecting ‘bagless’ deliveries increasing by nearly 50%. 

The bag charge was introduced by the Government in October this year with the aim of cutting the number of plastic bags taken from shops and reducing their impact on the environment

The drop in bag use by Tesco customers in store is almost 10% higher than Tesco predicted before the bag levy was introduced.

“We knew the Government’s bag charge would encourage our customers to use fewer plastic bags and it’s clearly had a huge impact,” said Tesco communications director Rebecca Shelley.

“We wanted to do as much as we could to help our customers avoid paying the charge – the week before the charge was introduced we gave out free bags for life, and we’ve been sharing helpful hints and tips on how customers can cut down the number of bags they use.

“We’re also working with our customers to make sure the millions of pounds that will be raised from the bag charge go towards making a real difference for our local communities.”

Since the charge was implemented, Tesco has been asking charities to apply for funding for for projects that make lasting improvements to green spaces in communities across the UK.

The size of the grants available range from £8,000 to £12,000, and Tesco is working with environmental charity Groundwork to administer the scheme.

Positive impact

Environment Minister Rory Stewart said: “I’m really delighted that the 5p plastic bag charge is starting to have a real impact and is raising thousands for good causes.         

“Cutting the number of plastic bags we use is a small but vital step in reducing plastic waste. It will not only tidy up our towns and countryside, it will also help protect our precious beaches and sea life.”

Tesco is also looking to reduce its back-of-store waste with a new process that turns  pallet and multi-pack wrapping, into plastic bags.

The retailer also has an ambition to be zero carbon by 2050, and has programmes in place to donate more than 70 million meals to charity each year as part of its food-waste reduction efforts.

Brad Allen

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