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Has the carrier bag charge changed perceptions of reuse?

Latest News September 27, 2017 2:22 pm

Has the 5p carrier bag charge changed your perception of reuse? Well, if you find yourself grabbing your ‘bag for life’ out of the car every time you head to the supermarket, then it has.

The law relating to charges for single-use plastic carrier bags, which was introduced in October 2015, requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all plastic bags.

According to statistics, packaging consultants Outpace Limited reported that in 2015 the number of plastic bags used by one major UK supermarket chain was 1.47 billion. In 2016, this drastically reduced to 235 million plastic bags. That’s a staggering reduction of 8640te of plastic used to manufacture bags for just one UK supermarket. Consider a similar volume for the other major supermarkets, and likewise national retailers, you can see quite quickly the positive impact the 5p charge has had. This suggests the public are now more inclined to carry items straight from the shop to their car, rather than buy a 5p bag, or alternatively they’re reusing purpose made shopping bags for their goods.

The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, recently announced it will scrap the 5p bag altogether and instead only offer customers ‘bags for life’, which cost 10p. The move by Tesco follows a 10-week trial in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, which led to a 25 per cent cut in plastic bag sales to shoppers. RPS is in support of this initiative as it will encourage customers to reuse bags, rather than purchasing new ones at the till.

We know we need to save as many raw materials as we can and the 2015 legislation will help prevent excessive material consumption and in addition reduce litter.

It’s clear to see the mindset of customers is changing and more people are starting to see the benefits of reusing plastic bags, which is a step in the right direction. For one, it’s cheaper than shelling out 5p for every carrier bag used, but there are much greater environmental benefits.

The carrier bag charge was a clever move by the government but it’s worth asking whether more could be done to emphasise the importance of reusing other products and reduce waste overall?

With Brexit on the horizon, we believe this is a prime opportunity to really make a difference to the waste industry by developing and introducing laws. This could potentially help increase the amount of products that the public reuses.

Do you feel that the carrier bag charge has made a difference to your perceptions of reuse? Let us know by tweeting us, @RPS_Limited.

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