According to figures published today, carrier bag usage in Scotland dropped from 193.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 64.6 million during the same period in 2014, suggesting that Scotland is well on track to achieve a reduction of more than 80 per cent in the use of single-use carrier bags.
The report published by WRAP covers the 2014 calendar year for the UK from seven major grocery retailers.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead welcomed the news saying
These astounding figures – a reduction of 147 million – are yet another indication that the single use carrier bag charge has been a tremendous success, driving behaviour change to reduce litter across our beautiful country and also the amount of resources we, as a nation, consume.
Litter is a blight on our environment and I’m delighted with the reports we’ve received from these retailers. I’m pleased that so many consumers are now in the habit of reusing bags and the level of support from the Scottish public is extremely heartening.
Previously statistics showed that people in Scotland used more than 800 million new single-use carrier bags every year – more per head of population than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland is serious about tackling litter, reducing waste and creating a cleaner, greener environment for everyone to enjoy.
I hope the public will continue to embrace re-using their bags and that even more retailers will sign up to donate money to good causes, when it has been necessary for people to take a bag. These figures also demonstrate how small changes can make a big difference and as Scotland moves towards a more circular economy, I hope that it inspires people to think about what other actions they can take to reduce the amount of resources that they throw away.
These figures are consistent with feedback received from retailers that they have noted a reduction in use of more than 80 per cent since the charge was introduced on 20 October 2014. Wales and Northern Ireland both introduced similar charges and experienced reductions of more than 80 per cent in the first full year of their charge.
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said:
In the months since the Carrier Bag Charge was introduced, we’ve seen a tremendous change in Scots shoppers’ habits, with many more people now bringing re-useable bags. I congratulate people for the drop in single-use bags in circulation, as these single-use items usually quickly end up either as litter or landfill. Retailers have also embraced the charge and I would encourage those who’ve not yet done so to sign up to our Carrier Bag commitment, to enable clear reporting and donation to good causes.
More than 60 retailers have also signed up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment, a voluntary agreement operated by Zero Waste Scotland, to donate the net proceeds of the charge to good causes. This includes representatives from a range of retail sectors and has already raised more than £2 million for good causes throughout Scotland.
More information about carrier bags and the charge for them can be found at http://www.greenerscotland.org/cleanerscotland/carrier-bags