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Nine out of 10 shoppers using own bags since 5p charge introduced - study

Published 29/09/2016

Study results showed an increase in support in England for the carrier bag charge since its introduction
Study results showed an increase in support in England for the carrier bag charge since its introduction

Nine in 10 shoppers in England now use their own carrier bags following the 5p Government levy introduced a year ago, according to a study.

Around 90% of people take their own bags with them when food shopping, up from 70% before the charge on single-use plastic bags was introduced on October 5, research from Cardiff University shows.

Additionally, around one in 15 shoppers (7%) now regularly take single-use carrier bags at the checkout, compared with the one in four who took one before the charge.

Results showed an increase in support in England for the carrier bag charge since its introduction from 51% to 62%, as well as an increase in support for other potential waste reduction charges, such as on plastic water bottles.

The report said the results showed that the charge made shoppers "stop and think whether they really need to use a single-use plastic bag for their shopping".

Professor Wouter Poortinga, who led the research, said: "Overall, our research has shown that the English carrier bag charge has had a strong and positive impact on people's attitudes and behaviours and that it successfully disrupted people using plastic bags.

"We've seen that the charge has become increasingly popular with the English population since it was introduced, and that it has changed attitudes towards waste policies as well.

"This suggests that other similar policies could be successfully implemented, such as a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles or a charge on disposable coffee cups."

The study also revealed that half of people now regularly took their own bags when shopping for clothes and healthcare products, compared to just one in 10 before the charge.

Andy Cummins, from Surfers against Sewage, said: "This study is another important marker highlighting the unmitigated success of the bag charge, reducing the numbers of bags given out in English supermarkets by billions.

"This study demonstrates how the bag charge has swiftly changed both public behaviour and enhanced attitudes towards single-use bags.

"The report concludes with a valuable message for government and industry by confirming the public would be open to further economic measures to help reduce littering, such as deposit return systems to ensure bottles and cans remain in the recycling economy rather than the environment."

A Defra spokesman said: " These latest figures show that this great progress is the result of a real change in our behaviour.

"Many more of us now stop, think and take a bag with us before heading out to the shops.

"This is a great example of how small actions by each of us can make a positive difference and help to make better use of our resources, keep our country cleaner and protect our marine environment."

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