Huge fall in carrier bag use in Scotland

Carrier bags at checkout

One year on since tax figures show dramatic fall in carrier bag use 

20th October 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Plastic bag use in Scotland has been slashed by 80% in the first full year of the carrier bag tax being introduced, official figures show.

Since the charge was brought in this time last year, over 650,000 bags have been saved from landfill – a net saving of more than 4,000 tonnes of plastic and other materials.

The charge has also raised about £6.7 million for good causes in the past 12 months.

Wales imposed the tax in 2011 while England introduced the charge last week.

Environment minister Richard Lochhead said the figures signalled a major success.

"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.

It's now becoming second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags - Richard Lochhead

"It's now becoming second nature to shoppers to reuse their carrier bags and hopefully to think more about our impact on the environment," he said.

Morrisons, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Boots all report an 80% reduction in bag use, with Asda seeing a larger drop of 90% and Sainsbury's 100% as it no longer offers carrier bags.

Retailers are urged to sign up to a commitment to disclose information on the charge and donations to good causes.

Stephen Watkins, head of customer experience at Boots UK, said customers had no issues with the charge and were happy to know the proceeds went to charity.

“We want to help our customers care for the environment while making a difference in their local communities. We’ve seen a really positive effect in our stores in Scotland since the introduction of the charge in 2014, with an estimated reduction of around 80 per cent in carrier bag usage."

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, added: "Before the charge Scotland consumed a staggering 800 million carrier bags every year, many of which ended up polluting our environment and threatening wildlife.

"As an additional benefit, less resource use also means fewer carbon emissions."