Shopping bag charge results in 650 million fewer bags in Scotland

by Search Gate staff. Published Tue 20 Oct 2015 09:48
Shopping bag use drops by 80% in Scotland

The Scottish Government has confirmed that retailers across Scotland have witnessed a massive reduction in the number of single use carrier bags handed out since the 5p charge came into effect a year ago.

Data from major grocery retailers indicate a reduction in bag use of around 80 per cent since 20 October 2014 – equivalent to at least 650 million fewer bags being handed out annually compared to ‘business as usual’ in previous years – with funds of around £6.7 million being donated to good causes as a result of the charge.

Boots, one of Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment signatories, has reported an estimated 80 per cent reduction in carrier bag use in Scotland. Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead was at its store in Aberdeen to speak to shoppers about their experiences of the change so far.

He said: “The 5p charge has been a major success with the number of single use bags down by a staggering 650 million, and with nearly £7m raised for good causes.

“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. I am confident that Scotland is going to go from strength to strength in its bid to tidy up our streets and beaches, where litter has been a highly visible problem in the past.”

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “With retailers in Scotland reporting a reduction of 80% in the use of single use carrier bags, it’s evident that Scottish shoppers have embraced a new shopping habit. It’s not always easy to change our habits, but Scotland is proving it has this in the bag.

“Many organisations have already agreed to donate money raised by the 5p charge to good causes, by signing up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment. Other retailers across the country are now being urged to follow suit.”

Nationwide retailers that signed up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment – an agreement to disclose information on the charge, and donations made, to a central publicly available portal – are reporting that various charities up and down the country have also benefited from funds raised by the charge, with at least £6.7 million being donated to good causes.

Morrisons, the Co-operative and Waitrose have indicated a reduction of 80 per cent, with Asda reporting a drop of 90 per cent, while Sainsburys have witnessed 100 per cent reduction of single use carrier bags as they no longer offer them to shoppers.

Stephen Watkins, head of customer experience North & East Scotland at Boots UK, added: “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. We’ve also been able to offer significant support to Macmillan Cancer Support and the important work that they do for those affected by cancer in Scotland.

“From 5 October 2015 we are donating the net proceeds of the sale of these bags to BBC Children In Need. Together with our customers we can help make a difference to our environment and support community projects across Scotland the rest of the UK.”

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