English Supermarkets To Start Charging For Plastic Bags?

Environmental groups in England are demanding that shoppers pay for their single-use plastic bags.

According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers in the UK used almost 8 billion single-use plastic bags in 2011, a 5.4% rise on the 7.6 billion in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month. This was the second annual rise in a row.

Wrap also points out that in Wales, where a 5p charge was introduced last October, the amount of throwaway bags being taken home has fallen significantly.

England is the only part of the UK which has no plans for a plastic bag charge, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Keep Britain Tidy, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Surfers Against Sewage are calling for one to be brought in.

From The Guardian:

Samantha Harding, CPRE “stop the drop” campaign manager, said bag levies had been shown to work in Wales and in Ireland, where plastic bag use fell by 90% following the introduction of a charge.

“A levy is coming to Northern Ireland and Scotland is already consulting on one. Why must the English countryside be the last to benefit from good environmental policies?” she asked.

The organizations say plastic bags end up littering England’s streets, countryside and beaches, while in the sea they can entangle or be swallowed by wildlife.

Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide, or about 1 million plastic bags every minute, but a single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.

Around the world, some nations and cities, recognizing that plastic bags are bad for the earth because they are made from petroleum and don’t decompose, have begun imposing bans on single-use plastic bags. Parts of China, Australia, South Africa, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany have either banned plastic bags outright or introduced a fee for them.

And earlier this year, in the US, the city of Los Angeles approved a ban on plastic bags, joining 48 other California cities, and numerous other American cities that already have plastic bag bans.

Memo to England: time to get going on the fee for single-use plastic bags.

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Photo Credit: Frank Gruber


Carol D.
Past Member 5 years ago

Yes do away with plastic bags altogether If Delhi in India can then everyone can or make them so expensive people wont want to buy them They cause so much damage to the planet and animals etc whoever invented them should be shot

Maddie Kehoe
amanda Kehoe5 years ago

Maybe they should just stop giving out plastic bags full stop? Not even having them to buy. The everyone would bring canvas bags? Problem solved. :)

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago


Annmari Lundin
Annmari L5 years ago

Swedish shoppers have been charged for using store plastic bags since 1973. It hasn't decreased the useage. Unfortunately. But. Most use the plastic bags as trash bags, or, reuse as bags for practically everything. Stores also charge for paper bags. Some stores donate a small percentage of the price of a bag to good things, like planting trees. If everyone in the world brought their own reusable bags with them when shopping, there would not only be a cleaner world, but less oil used for production of plastic (and paper) bags). Spread the word!

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Sometimes plastic bags are useful, for hygienic reasons.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

Polish supermarkets already do. :-)

Lynne B.
Lynne B5 years ago

I have been using jute bags for years. I always have a foldup into its own pocket type of bag in my hand bag. It took a while to remember to put it back in, now it is automatic. Like-wise my husband has a manly type one in the back of his car.

I live in a middle eastern country and have to practically arm wrestle with the bag packer not to put my shopping into plastic bags. It is going to take this area a long time to get the point about plastic. They think I'm nuts. Even a packet of chewing gum will be put into a carrier.

Sainsburys used to give a penny back each time you reused on of their plastic bags(about 22 years ago). My boys used to love splitting the money between them for their money box.

Sue Griffiths
SUE Griffiths5 years ago

I live in Wales and as it says in the article 5p is charged if you want a plastic bag. When this came into force, it took a while for shoppers to remember to take their own carrier bags with them, but now when my husband pops into the supermarket for few things, I love to sit in the car and people watch. It's great to see nearly everyone using their pretty royal blue bags with red ladybirds. They are everywhere. One thing that used to really annoy me was seeing plastic bags blowing in the wind and getting caught in trees. Some would be there for years. I use plastic bread bags for picking up after my dog. Why waste money buying plastic bags especially made for poop and then throw empty bread bags away? It's a lovely feeling knowing that the use of plastic bags has dropped by 90% in our beautiful country.

Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

why is it taking us so long to either charge people for plastic bags, or better yet, get rid of the bags altogether?

Allan Yorkowitz
.5 years ago

I remember when I lived in England, supermarket patrons would have their own totes. The problem in England as in America, are the people who do not bring their own bags if they are buying one or two items. What's the difference! Bring your own bag!!