Carrier bag usage falls by 80 per cent

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THE number of plastic carrier bags handed out in stores was slashed by at least 650 million in the first year of Scotland’s 5p charge.

New figures released on the anniversary of its introduction indicate the levy has cut usage by around 80 per cent, equivalent to 650 million fewer bags than in previous years.

The charge for single-use carriers has also raised around £6.7 million for good causes in the past 12 months.

Morrisons, the Co-operative, Waitrose and Boots have all reported an estimated 80 per cent reduction in carrier bag use, with Asda witnessing a drop of 90 per cent and Sainsbury’s 100 per cent as it no longer offers them to shoppers.

Announcing the figures, Scotland’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead hailed the 5p charge as a “major success”.

He said: “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.”

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “It’s not always easy to change our habits but Scotland is proving it has this in the bag.”