Time to act on single use bags in England?

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We are all guilty of using too many bags from the supermarkets when we do our shopping. Some reduction has been managed in England by the bags for life system – but it is only a drop in the ocean. However in Wales a charge on bags was levied last year and the first results of its effect are in – and its good news!

Look familiar?

Supermarkets in Wales are reporting a reduction in the use of ‘single use bags’ of up to 90%.

It is six months since a minimum 5p charge per bag was introduced, Sainsbury’s saw a 90% fall, the Co-op reported 86% and Morrison’s 60%.

In 2009, shoppers in Wales took home an estimated 350m carrier bags from the major supermarkets. The new figures suggest hundreds of millions fewer single use carrier bags could be handed out this year in supermarkets alone.

Supermarkets report that the introduction of the 5p charge has gone smoothly across all stores and did not result in the ‘anarchy’ that was predicted by some. This was probably due to strong publicity in the months prior to the change, but with the holiday season approaching and lots of English visiting is it not a good opportunity to educate us English as well?

Tesco in England reports that since 2006 it has reduced bag use by over 50% through clubcard loyalty incentives for customers bringing their own carriers – not a bad result. But in Wales this has risen to over 90% with the levy. This just goes to show that sometimes a big stick is required to get people to act!

So how about it? Time to act?

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