In the News

Tesco to end sales of "single use" 5p bags

Geoff Riley

7th August 2017

Tesco has announced that only 10 pence bags for life will be available from their stores with the 5 pence bags being phased out. This follows a similar move by Sainsbury's.

A 5p charge came into effect on single use carrier bags in England on 5 October 2015.

There has been a remarkable change in consumer behaviour since the charge on plastic bags was introduced. The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers has declined by more than 85% since the charge came into force. 

Pressure is intensifying on supermarkets to reduce the scale of plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables and also to increase the percentage of plastic that can be recycled. The decision by Tesco has been welcomes by pressure groups such as Surfers against Sewage and Greenpeace.

At present, retailers employing less than 250 full time staff are exempt from applying the charge.

Data from the House of Commons Library finds that single use carrier bag use in Wales between 2011 and 2014 declined by 71%; Zero Waste Scotland estimated that the 7 major grocery retailers in Scotland used about 650 million fewer single use carrier bags in the first year of the charge in Scotland; and Northern Ireland reported a 71.8% reduction in plastic bag use in its first year.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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