The number has increased every year for the last five years. Each of us took 11.7 bags per month, up on 10 the previous year, and the total now stands at 8.5 billion.
England is the only part of the UK where you don’t have to pay for your bags (with some exceptions e.g. Aldi and Marks and Spencer).
Wales introduced the 5p charge in 2011 and shoppers there use only 2.1 a month. In Northern Ireland which began charging in 2013 shoppers use1.6 a month. In Scotland, which started charging last October, consumption has already dropped 80%.
For some reason England is being different, some might say difficult about this as there are exemptions for smaller shops and for paper bags – which are charged at the same rate as plastic bags elsewhere in the UK.
The Minister for Waste Rory Stewart said “We’re all guilty of taking a carrier bag from a supermarket, storing it somewhere safe at home with the intention of using it again, then forgetting to take it with us when we go shopping“.
I have a car boot full of re-usable bags I have bought from various supermarkets but invariably forget to take them into the store with me as I think I’m only going to buy one thing and I won’t need a bag!