Total carrier bag use continues to fall in UK

With the help of consumers, the United Kingdom’s leading supermarkets have continued to reduce the total number of bags given out by 41 percent since figures were first recorded in 2006, Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) announced. This figure compares to a 35 percent reduction recorded in 2009.

In 2006 a total of 10.9 billion bags (including single-use bags, bags-for-life and reusable bags such as cotton and jute) were used. That number has since decreased by 4.5 billion to 6.5 billion per year in 2009/10, reducing the amount of material used in bags by 39,700 tons per year.

Within that overall reduction, the number of ‘single-use’ carrier bags issued has been reduced by 43 percent. This is a reduction of 4.6 billion single-use bags per year (45,800 tons per year), compared to a 37 percent reduction recorded in 2008/9.

WRAP’s other measurement – a spot check analysis of bag use during the month of May – has also recorded a reduction in total bag use. 395 million less bags were used in May 2010 than in May 2006 – a 44 percent reduction, compared to a reduction of 43 percent last year.

Within this measurement, the number of single-use bags has increased slightly from May 2009. In May 2010, 45 percent fewer bags were used than in May 2006, compared to 48 percent fewer in 2009.

This progress has been made against a back-drop of 6.3 percent sales growth by signatory supermarkets between 2006 and 2009 with the number of items sold up from 48.5 billion to 51.5 billion.

In 2010, WRAP has reported additional ‘annual trend data’ as this represents a more comprehensive picture of UK carrier bag use.

In 2008, the United Kingdom Governments, the British Retail Consortium and leading supermarkets agreed to a voluntary approach to cut the number of single-use bags given to customers by 50 percent by spring 2009.