Share A study by the UK’s Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) has shown an overall rise in the number of single use carrier bags used in the UK for 2011, but one country in the UK is defying that trend.
Since implementing a five pence (about eight cent) charge on single use bags last October, Wales experienced a 22% decrease in their use of "thin-gauge" bags. The charge applies to both paper and plastic single use bags and according to a study by the Welsh government the percentage of people who brought their own bags to the supermarket surged from 42 to 64% following the charge.
Since its introduction, the single use bag charge in Wales has resulted in bag use reductions of up to 75% for fashion retailers and a massive 96% for food retailers. British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) head of environment, Bob Gordon, sees nothing strange about Wale’s success:
It’s no surprise the use of a bag charge in Wales has reduced the number of bags taken by consumers there. If other governments see reducing the use of carrier bags as a priority, they will have to take a lead and go beyond voluntary measures.
The bulk of UK’s increase in bag use lies primarily with England and Northern Ireland, which increased their bag intake by 7.5% and 8.1% respectively over the last year. The BRC explains that the increase isn’t for lack of environmental caring but a side effect of changing spending patterns; tough financial times have forced some to make smaller but more frequent trips to the grocery store and as a result bag use increased.
But news isn’t all bad for the UK, even with 2011 as a blip on their record, the UK reduced their average bag use by 35% since 2006. Northern Ireland is even going to follow in the footsteps of Wales, planning a five pence charge by next year. Scotland is also in talks to propose a minimum charge of five pence which would leave England as the only country in the UK without a mandatory single use bag charge.