WRAP announces new carrier bag figures

24th July 2015

Data published today by WRAP shows that 8.5 billion thin-gauge[i] (single-use) bags were used in 2014 by customers of UK supermarkets[ii].

This represents an increase of 2.3[iii]% compared with 2013 (8.3 billion), and a decrease of 30% compared with 2006 (12.2 billion), when reporting began.

The number of thin-gauge (single-use) bags used per month by supermarket customers increased from 10.8[iv] in 2013 to 11.0 in 2014. This represents a decrease from 16.7 bags per customer in the baseline year of 2006.

The overall number of bags (which include re-usable bags) issued by supermarkets in 2014 totalled 9.0 billion. This compares to 8.8 billion bags in 2013 and 12.4 billion bags in 2006.

These figures represent an increase of 2.4% between 2013 and 2014, and a reduction of 28% since the baseline year of 2006.

In 2014, total carrier bags (which include re-usable bags) weighed 68,600 tonnes, compared with 67,300 tonnes in 2013, which represents a 1.8% increase. Overall there has been a 37.5% decrease in the weight of carrier bags from the baseline year of 2006.

There has been a 50% reduction in the amount of virgin polymer used in all carrier bags between the baseline of 2006 and 2014. Between 2013 and 2014 there was a 4.5% reduction in virgin polymer used in all carrier bags, which indicates that recycled content has increased.

Data on carrier bags issued by supermarkets has been gathered and analysed by WRAP at the request of UK governments on an annual basis since 2006.

In 2014, retailers supplied information about front-of-store recycling of carrier bags. Of the 4 retailers that responded, 68% of their shops had front-of-store recycling for carrier bags[v].

 

Number of bags (millions) presented by format by nations collectively

 

2006

2007

2008

2009/10

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Thin-gauge / single-use bags

12,174

11,065

8,605

7,208

7,568

7,977

8,079

8,335

8,529

Bags for Life

245

280

399

362

406

415

408

424

439

All bags

12,419

11,346

9,004

7,570

7,974

8,392

8,487

8,759

8,968

 

Weight of bags (thousands of tonnes) presented by format by nations collectively

 

2006

2007

2008

2009/10

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Thin-gauge / single-use bags

104.8

96.8

69.1

54.0

56.5

61.1

60.2

56.8

58.0

Bags for Life

4.9

7.9

14.3

11.6

11.8

11.2

10.2

10.6

10.5

All bags

109.8

104.7

83.4

65.6

68.3

72.3

70.4

67.3

68.6

 

Breakdown by nation

Thin gauge bags used per capita per month

Bags per person
per month

2006

2007

2008

2009/10

2010

2011

2012

2013

 

2014

 

UK

16.7

15.0

11.6

9.6

10.0

10.5

10.6

10.8

11.0

England

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

10.0

10.6

11.0

11.5

11.7

Scotland

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

11.9

11.8

11.9

12.6

10.3

Wales

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

9.6

7.4

1.7

2.0

2.1

Northern Ireland

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

8.0

8.6

8.8

2.6

1.6

 

Number of thin-gauge carrier bags - (bags by billions)

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2013/2014
change

2010/2014
change

UK

7.57

7.98

8.08

8.34

8.50[vi]

+2.3%

+12.7%

Scotland

0.75

0.75

0.76

0.80

0.65[vii]

-18.3%

-12.8%

England

6.29

6.76

7.06

7.40

7.64

+3.2%

+21.4%

Wales

0.35

0.27

0.06

0.07

0.08

+5.2%

-78.2%

Northern Ireland

0.17

0.19

0.19

0.06

0.03

-42.6%

-81.2%

 

ENDS

 

[i] Thin-gauge bags constitute 95% of all bags used by supermarket customers, and are defined as all paper bags and polyethylene bags of a gauge (thickness) of less than 25 microns.

[ii] Participating retailers are: Asda, Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, Tesco and Waitrose.

[iii] Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100.

[iv] The figures presented for years 2013 and 2014 data sets are based on the revised population data from the Office of National Statistics published in November 2013. The figures for bags per capita in previous years have therefore been revised to take into account the latest population data.

[v] This data was collected for the first time in 2013 and some stores only supplied data for their larger-format stores. In 2014 convenience stores were also included in their returns. Four retailers provided this information for 2014, while three no longer collect this data.

[vi] The UK figure includes a small number of bags allocated to the Isle of Man, and that individual nation figures may not sum to the UK total

[vii] In October 2014 Scotland introduced a charge for single use carrier bags. The data therefore represents a period when such bags were free for 9 months but charged for 3 months.

 

Notes to editors:

1. Mandatory charges are being or have already been introduced in all four nations in the UK. The first charge was introduced in Wales, October 2011; followed by Northern Ireland in April 2013; Scotland in October 2014 and finally, the charge will be introduced in England in October 2015.

2. WRAP’s vision is a world where resources are used sustainably. It works in partnership with governments, businesses, trade bodies, local authorities, communities and individuals looking for practical advice to improve resource efficiency that delivers both economic and environmental benefits.

3. Our mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable resource-efficient economy through:

- re-inventing how we design, produce and sell products,

- re-thinking how we use and consume products, and

- re-defining what is possible through re-use and recycling.

4. First established in 2000, WRAP is a registered charity.  WRAP works with UK governments and other funders to help deliver their policies on waste prevention and resource efficiency.  WRAP is a registered Charity No 1159512 and registered as a Company limited by guarantee in England & Wales No 4125764. Registered office at Second Floor, Blenheim Court, 19 George Street, Banbury, Oxon, OX16 5BH.

For further information contact:

Kirsty Warren | WRAP

Direct 01295 819924 | Mobile 07815 509022

Email Kirsty.Warren@wrap.org.uk

 

 
Contact

Kirsty Warren

Communications Executive Corporate PR
01295 819924