Plastic bag tax effective in slashing usage rates

According to a study carried out in the UK charging for single-use carrier bags is a highly effective way of reducing their use. The study carried out by Cardiff University found that mandatory charges applied in Wales saw a 22% fall in bags last year.

However England and Northern Ireland showed a 7.5% and 8.1% rise in usage rates respectively during 2011, where mandatory charges aren’t applied.

The data, released by WRAP, surveyed carrier bag use by supermarket customers across the UK and found that collectively, 8 billion ‘thin-gauge’ bags were issued in the UK in 2011, a 5.4% rise compared with 2010 (7.6 billion).

However, compared with 2006 when WRAP first began gathering this data, there has been an overall decline of 35% from the 12.2 billion 2006 baseline.

The figures further revealed a 51% reduction in the amount of virgin polymer used in the manufacture of all carrier bags – including reusable ‘bags for life’ – since 2006. This would suggest that more recycled materials are now being used in bag manufacture.

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