It’s truly incredible how averse we are to the 5p hole that plastic bags now burn through our pockets… that includes myself… However the question stands, has it had a positive impact?
Yes, is the simple answer and to an extent that really defies belief. Supermarket bag usage has decreased by an astonishing 80% and has remained at that level. Who knew that 5p could be such a deterrant! (Safe to say, we British are a stingy breed!)
This is hugely beneficial for the environment and reduces the amount of plastic bag waste in landfills along with the amount of resources needed to produce the carrier bags. Before the 5p tax was announced, British shoppers took 8.5 billion single-use carrier bags from major supermarkets (in 2014) (gov). This is equivalent to the weight of 400 Blue Whales..!
One of the biggest growths that has therefore come out of the 5p tax is the use of ones own bag. In the UK 92-93% of people now use their own bags compared to an original 70% (guardian). Aside from the environmental impact it is also expected to greatly aid charities throughout the UK. Supermarkets are encouraged to use this extra 5p for good causes and it is hoped that over the next 10 years £780 million will be raised for charity!
However, all is not rosy as 533m bags worth £27m were taken by shoppers between October and January, according to a survey by the Daily Mail. However when we look at how many bags are saved through the tax, it pales in comparison.