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  1. ITV Report

Plastic bag sales down 90 per cent since 5p charge introduced

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

Plastic bag sales in England's supermarkets have fallen by 90 per cent since a 5p charge was introduced in 2015, Government figures have revealed.

Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Sainsbury's, Co-Op, Marks and Spencer and Morrisons sold 549 million plastic bags in 2018-19 - half the number purchased in the previous year.

England's plastic bag fee came into effect on October 5, 2015, with all supermarkets and large stores made to charge a minimum of 5p every time they sold a single-use carrier bag.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said the measure “continues to deliver results”.

She added: “No one wants to see the devastating impact plastic waste is having on our precious wildlife.

“Today’s figures are a powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society.”

A consultation was launched by the Government in December last year to investigate raising the levy to 10p. Credit: PA

The minimum 5p charge for plastic bags applies to all retailers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England if they have more than 250 employees.

A consultation was launched by the Government in December last year to investigate raising the levy to 10p.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has praised the reduction in plastic bag sales Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

In recent months, hundreds of companies have made pledges to cut back the amount of plastic and packaging they use.

Supermarket giant Asda recently vowed to ditch plastic carrier bags for online shopping, while Boots announced in June that it will get rid of them completely in favour of paper bags.