A new report released today by the Government Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), confirms that we used more single-use supermarket carrier bags in 2011, than we did in the previous year.
The report shows that supermarkets issued a staggering 8 billion ‘thin gauge’ carrier bags during 2011, a 5.4% rise on the 2010 figures, so despite carrier bag bans, taxes, and levies, it seems the trusty plastic carrier bag is still in demand.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) puts this increase down to changes in our shopping trends and spending habits, and claim, “the on-going squeeze on people’s disposable incomes means families are increasingly doing several smaller grocery shops during the week rather than one big trip, plus there is a switch away from going by car in favour of public transport. For both of these reasons consumers are less likely to have a reusable bag with them”.
The BRC continue by stressing that carrier bags are not the “great environmental issue some believe they are”, and as the 2011 stats show an overall decline of 35% from the 2006 baseline figure of 12.2 billion single-use carrier bags, it seems we are still moving in the right direction.
The report reveals that the number of supermarket carrier bags used in Wales during 2011 dropped by 22% on the previous year’s figures, which is almost certainly down to the recently introduced 5p carrier bag tax. England and Northern Ireland saw rises of 7.5% and 8.1% respectively, and in Scotland there was “no significant change” on the 2010 figures.
The WRAP figures also reveal that there has been a “51% reduction in the amount of Virgin Polymer used to manufacture carrier bags (including re-usable ‘bags for life’) since 2006”, which indicates that more manufacturers are using recycled materials to make their plastic bags than ever before.