The number of plastic bags issued by large retailers in England dropped by 83% in the 12 months to 6 April 2017 compared with the year before the 5p charge was enforced.
New government figures reveal that the 5p charge has reduced use by more than nine billion single use bags since the its introduction in October 2015.
The seven main retailers (Asda, Marks and Spencer’s, Sainsbury, Tesco, The Co-operative Group, Waitrose and Morrisons) sold around 1.3 billion single-use plastic carrier bags in the year to 6 April, the equivalent to each person in the population using around 25 bags, compared to around 140 bags a year before the charge (2014).
Money raised from the charge has generated £95m for good causes.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “In October 2015, the government introduced the 5p carrier bag charge. Figures released today show that policy’s enormous success – nine billion fewer carrier bags distributed since the charge was introduced, a fall of 83%.”
An expert group announced as part of the government’s Litter Strategy has begun work to explore ways to reduce the use of commonly littered items such as drink bottles, as well as considering the pros and cons of different types of deposit and return schemes.
Small stores are currently exempt from the 5p carrier bag charge.