Scheme hailed for cutting waste and litter

Carrier bag charge sees usage fall by almost 130 million

carrier bagsShoppers in Scotland have used almost 130 million fewer carrier bags since a charge was introduced last year, according to new figures.

Bag usage 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 cut carrier bag use by more than 80%.

Usage has fallen by 147 million on 2013. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have all introduced a charge. England will follow suit on 5 October.

The figures were compiled by the sustainability group WRAP from data supplied by seven of the biggest supermarket groups.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead described the figures as “astounding” and hailed the introduction of the 5p charge per bag as a “tremendous success”. He said it would help reduce litter and consumption.

“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.”

Shoppers in Scotland have been the highest users of single-use carrier bags in the UK with  more than 800 million consumed every year.

Screenshot 2015-07-24 00.02.57Mr Lochhead (left) said: “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.”

The Scottish government said the figures are consistent with feedback from retailers who say they have noted a reduction in use of more than 80% since the charge was introduced on 20 October 2014. Wales and Northern Ireland both introduced similar charges and experienced reductions of more than 80% 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.

Retailers and organisations can register for more information at and full details of the Carrier Bag Commitment can be found at

Shoppers can access further information about the single-use carrier bag charge by visiting

Zero Waste Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government to support the delivery of its Zero Waste Plan and other low carbon and resource efficiency policy priorities.

More information on all ZWS’s programmes can be found at

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