Scotland’s plastic bag charge sees usage drop by 80%
The number of plastic carrier bags handed out in Scottish shops has reduced by at least 650 million in the first year of the nation's 5p charge.
New figures released this week – exactly a year after the levy was introduced – reveal that carrier bag usage has fallen by around 80%.
The charge for single-use carrier bags has also raised around £6.7m for good causes in the past 12 months.
Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead hailed the 5p charge as a “major success”.
Lochead said: “Previously statistics showed that people in Scotland used more than 800 million new single-use carrier bags every single year – more per head than anywhere else in the UK.
“I thank Scotland for embracing this policy and showing we’re serious about tackling litter, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener environment for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s now becoming second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags and hopefully to think more about our impact on the environment.”
Morrisons, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Boots have all reported an estimated 80% reduction in carrier bag use, with Asda witnessing a drop of 90% and Sainsbury’s 100% (as it no longer offers them to shoppers).
A reduction of 650 million bags means an annual net saving of more than 4,000 tonnes of plastic and other materials, and more than 2,500 tonnes of CO2.
All retailers are being urged to sign up to Scotland’s carrier bag commitment, an agreement to disclose information on the charge and donations made.
Earlier this month, England became the final UK country to introduce a carrier bag charge. But unlike the rest of Britain, the charge in England only applies to shops that employ more than 250 staff members.
It is hoped that over the next decade the levy will save £60m in litter costs while simultaneously saving £13m in carbon savings across the UK.