Plastic bag usage plunged by 78% in one month, says Tesco

Plastic bag usage at Tesco supermarkets in England plunged by an amazing 78% within one month of the introduction of the 5p per bag charge required by the Government, the giant retailer informed today. The decline refers to single-use bags.

The new government legislation seems to have made English shoppers more environmentally conscious. The number of online shoppers selecting ‘bagless’ deliveries jumped by almost 50% over the same period.

The Government introduced the bag charge in October 2015, the aim being to reduce the number of plastic bags leaving shops, being discarded as rubbish and messing up the environment.

Plastic bag levyOn Monday 5th October, 2015, carrier bag charging started in England, similar to the charging already in place in Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. (Image:

Cut in bag use higher than forecast

The reduction in plastic bag use by Tesco shoppers in store was nearly 10% higher than the retailer had predicted before the levy came into force.

Tesco’s communications director, Rebecca Shelley, said:

“We knew the Government’s bag charge would encourage our customers to use fewer plastic bags and it’s clearly had a huge impact.”

“We wanted to do as much as we could to help our customers avoid paying the charge – the week before the charge was introduced we gave out free bags for life, and we’ve been sharing helpful hints and tips on how customers can cut down the number of bags they use.”

“We’re also working with our customers to make sure the millions of pounds that will be raised from the bag charge go towards making a real difference for our local communities.”

Bag levy to go to charity and community projects

Over the last six weeks, Tesco has been approaching local community groups and charities encouraging them to apply for grants from the carrier-bag-charge income to finance projects which can make lasting improvements to green spaces in communities across the country.

Tesco Plc. has extended the application deadline to 11th December, so that charities, individuals and other entities have more time.

Litter from plastig bag usageHopefully, the 5p levy will reduce plastic-bag litter in England.

The eligibility criteria for the scheme now also includes projects on housing estates, residential areas (including gated areas), school grounds, community spaces, hospice grounds, allotments and day centres.

Grants will range in size from £8,000 to £12,000. Environmental charity Groundwork is helping Tesco administer the scheme.

Rory Stewart, Environment Minister, said:

“I’m really delighted that the 5p plastic bag charge is starting to have a real impact and is raising thousands for good causes.”

“Cutting the number of plastic bags we use is a small but vital step in reducing plastic waste. It will not only tidy up our towns and countryside, it will also help protect our precious beaches and sea life.”

Tesco, which claims to lead the industry in its work to reduce food waste, says it aims to become a zero carbon business by the middle of the century.

Video – 5p single-use plastic bag charge

This is a short Government video for consumers and others explaining the 5p charge for single-use plastic carrier bags.