More than 1.5 billion single-use carrier bags have been saved by Tesco customers since the introduction of the government’s 5p bag levy a year ago.

The figures equate to a 72% fall in the use of plastic bags in Tesco stores, while 57% of the retailer’s online shoppers opted for ‘bagless’ deliveries.

The money raised by customers purchasing plastic bags has helped fund 1,170 community projects as part of Tesco’s Bags of Help initiative. Grants ranging from £8,000 to £12,000 have been awarded to charities and community groups.

Tesco’s communications director George Gordon said: “We’re encouraging our customers to use fewer single-use bags, so these figures are really encouraging.

“Also the money raised from our customers buying bags is making a big difference to local communities across the country.

“Thanks to Bags of Help, nearly £12m has been spent so far on local environmental improvement projects like parks, sports facilities, school playgrounds and community gardens – projects that have all been chosen by our customers.”

Separate research by Cardiff University has revealed that about 90% of people in England now takes their own bags with them when food shopping.