Scotland launches new carrier bag reporting tool as usage plummets

Retailers signed up to Zero Waste Scotland's Carrier Bag Commitment will now be able to access a new reporting portal that can track how many single-use carrier bags are still being sold and how much revenue is being generated.

The new online tool will allow businesses signed up to the Commitment to record key data about their bag sales, following the new Scottish Government regulations which require all retailers to charge a minimum of 5p for every single-use carrier bag.

It will particularly support retailers that employ 10 or more full-time members of staff as they are required by law to keep, retain and supply information about the bags supplied and proceeds received as a result of the charge.

Signatories to the Carrier Bag Commitment agree to donate the proceeds from the charge to good causes in Scotland and in return gain free access to the reporting portal as well as bespoke communications materials.


Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It has been extremely encouraging to see how so many people across Scotland have adapted to the carrier bag charge by bringing reusable bags.

“Now that the charge is bedding in, shoppers will expect transparency in how bag numbers are falling and what retailers are doing with the proceeds. I am therefore urging retailers large and small to sign up to this commitment to publish their results and donate the proceeds to good causes.”

Carrier bag charge: In numbers

Zero Waste Scotland’s chief executive Iain Gulland added: “By signing up the Carrier Bag Commitment, retailers can use this dedicated reporting portal which provides a really easy and transparent way for retailers to record key data, as required by law, around number of bags sold and revenues generated. 

“In addition, the Commitment provides great publicity for both your business and the good causes you support and lets retailers demonstrate to their customers clearly what they’re doing with the money they raise from single-use bags.

“Over 250 retailers have already registered an interest in the Commitment, with signatories including Marks and Spencer, Superdry and Holland and Barrett and I hope to see others to follow suit.”

Positive impact

The plastic bag tax has radically changed Scots shoppers’ habits since it was introduced a month ago. According to a recent report in The Times, the number of carrier bags handed out to shoppers in Scotland has plummeted by more than 80%. Asda, which is the second largest supermarket in Scotland, revealed that carrier bag usage in its stores had fallen by 90%.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Only one month in and it’s pretty clear that the charge for single-use carrier bags is working well, with demand for bags from shoppers being slashed by up to 90% in some cases. This is great news for Scotland’s environment and wildlife, and proof that incentives like these can have a really positive impact for our planet.

“One only needs to stand in line at any shop these days to see that most people are opting not to pay for a bag because they’ve brought their own, meaning fewer bags ending up in landfill, polluting our oceans, or threatening wildlife.

“We hope it won’t be long before we rival nations like Denmark where, after a charge was introduced in 2003, each person now uses only four plastic bags per year on average – the lowest plastic bag use in Europe.”

Signatories can register for access to the portal at

Luke Nicholls

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