Plastic bag sales down by 90%

Major supermarkets in England have reported the drop after the UK government issued the 5p charge to tackle plastic pollution

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Plastic bag sales have dropped by 90% in England in four years, government figures reveal.

Supermarkets Asda, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 549 million plastic bags in 2018/19, down by nearly 50% from 1.11 billion the year prior.

According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), consumers now buy just 10 bags a year from England’s seven largest retailers, compared with 140 bags before the 5p charge was introduced.

The charge was introduced in 2015 to reduce plastic litter and raise money for charities and other good causes.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers described the figures as a “powerful demonstration that we are collectively calling time on being a throwaway society”.

A growing number of beauty retailers and brands have ramped up efforts to cater to the increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly products.

In June Holland & Barrett banned the sale of wet wipes in its 800 stores after The Marine Conservation found an average of 12 wet wipes per 100 metres on UK beaches.

Boots also announced that it is phasing out plastic bags in favour of brown paper alternatives.

Meanwhile, Unilever and L’Occitane have unveiled separate recycling innovations in an effort to tackle unnecessary waste.

British government scientists predict plastic in the sea is set to treble in a decade unless marine litter is tackled.

It is estimated that one million birds and over 100,000 sea mammals die every year from year eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.

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