The UK’s leading supermarkets have cut the number of single-use carrier bags used by 48% WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) has today announced.
This is against a target of 50% set by the Scottish Government, Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment in agreement with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and its supermarket members in 2008.
During the month of May 2006, the number of single-use carrier bags used by retailers participating in the agreement was 870 million. This figure fell to 450 million in May 2009 – a total reduction of 420 million. If the level of usage continued for a year this would be equivalent to an annual consumption of 5.6 billion single use bags, compared to 10.7 billion in 2006¹.
These reductions in single use bags have been achieved through a collective effort in all Nations of the UK, as the table below indicates.
|May 06 (m)²||May 09 (m)²||Reduction in numbers (m)²||% reduction|
² Rounding the figures up or down causes apparent discrepancies between the figures for the Nations and the total UK row.
For all bags (including bags for life and reusable bags), the total weight in May 2009 was 4,740 tonnes. This compares to 8, 890 tonnes in May 2006 – a reduction of 47%.
Participating retailers in the agreement are: Asda, Co-operative Group, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose.
Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP CEO said:
“The overall 48% reduction in single use carrier bags by the participating retailers demonstrates the continued rate of progress in this area, despite falling just short of the target figure. WRAP will continue to work alongside industry to deliver further reductions.”
¹ The estimate of 5.6 billion single-use bags for the calendar year of 2009 is arrived at by applying a 48% reduction to the 10.7 billion single-use bags use in 2006. This reduction is consistent with the reduction between May 2006 and May 2009.
- The agreement was made between the Scottish Government, Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and its supermarket members
- WRAP’s role in the agreement is to monitor the progress of the agreement through data collection and analysis. The members of the agreement issue their respective data to WRAP voluntarily. WRAP’s remit from the signatories is to issue the results for carrier bag reduction targets across the industry as a whole and not to release individual retailer data.
- The target was a 50% reduction in the number of single use carrier bags used in May 09 in comparison to the baseline of the month of May 2006. Defra and the BRC have a shared aspiration to work towards a 70% reduction over the longer term.
- WRAP works in partnership to encourage and enable businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and recycle more things more often. This helps to minimise landfill, reduce carbon emissions and improve our environment.
- Established as an independent company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
- More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk