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More than 7 billion plastic bags have been prevented from polluting

More than 7 billion plastic bags have been prevented from polluting the UK landscape since the introduction of the single-use carrier bag charge. Research shows a decrease of 98% in single-use bags since 2014.​ A 5p charge was first introduced in supermarkets in 2015. Since then, usage at the main retailers – Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose – has dropped by more than 98%. ​ According to the figures, the average person in England now buys just two single-use carrier bags a year from these businesses, compared with around 140 in 2014 before the charge was introduced. ​ Reports shows the number of single-use carrier bags sold by the main retailers was 133 million in 2022/23, down from 197 million in 2021/2022, representing a reduction of 33%. This is a huge drop from the 7.6 billion used in 2014. ​ In 2021 the charge was increased to 10p and extended to all businesses. This has helped bring the number of bags used down by more than 35% from 627 million in 2019/20 to 406 million in 2022/23. ​ Meanwhile, retailers have voluntarily donated more than £206 million from the proceeds to good causes in education, arts, heritage, sports, environment, health and charity or volunteering sectors since the charge’s introduction. ​ A range of polluting single-use plastics will be banned in England from 1 October 2023. The restrictions will include single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers.

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