More than half of English and Scottish consumers would support a plastic bag levy if introduced.

According to a Which? survey, 56% of consumers would be happy to pay 5p for a single-use carrier bag.

Of those surveyed, just 8% confessed to throwing away bags after one use while the majority of respondents (92%) reuse them.

WRAP figures revealed that almost eight billion plastic bags were distributed in 2011, a 5.4% rise on 2010’s figure of 7.57 billion.

Northern Ireland and England saw the biggest increases in the number handed out, showing 8.1% and 7.5% increases respectively. Northern Ireland is set to introduce a 5p levy in April 2013 which will rise to 10p in 2014 while Scotland is currently consulting on the issue.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman recently urged the government to follow the Welsh Assembly’s approach to carrier bag charges if one was deemed absolutely necessary.

The 5p charge in Wales was introduced last October and doesn’t require stores with less than 10 members of staff to keep records of the number of bags handed out. It also allows the retailer to donate the money raised to a local charity of their choice.

A Defra spokesman said:  “We want to work with retailers to help them lift their game to cut the number of bags they hand out. We are monitoring the results of the charging scheme in Wales and the outcome of the Scottish consultation on a charge.”