Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, today warmly welcomed the news that retailers across Scotland have witnessed a staggering reduction in the number of single use carrier bags handed out since the 5p charge came into effect 12 months ago.
Data from major grocery retailers indicate a reduction in bag use of around 80 per cent since 20 October 2014 – equivalent to at least 650 million fewer bags being handed out annually compared to ‘business as usual’ in previous years – with funds of around £6.7 million being donated to good causes as a result of the charge.
Boots, one of Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment signatories, has reported an estimated 80 per cent reduction in carrier bag use in Scotland.
Mr Beattie said:
“This charge has clearly proven to be a great success. The sensible thing is to keep our costs down when we go shopping, and taking our own bags not only keeps more money in our wallets but is much better for the environment.
“Prior to the charge Scotland was the worst in the UK for using carrier bags, with over 800 million new single-use carrier bags being used every single year.
“The efforts of the Scottish people to reduce this use should be strongly applauded. In one year we have taking a major step towards tackling litter, reducing waste and improving the environment. With almost £7 million raised for good causes on top of this, it’ll be exciting to see where we are in another year’s time!”
Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said:
“With retailers in Scotland reporting a reduction of 80% in the use of single use carrier bags, it’s evident that Scottish shoppers have embraced a new shopping habit. It’s not always easy to change our habits, but Scotland is proving it has this in the bag.
“Many organisations have already agreed to donate money raised by the 5p charge to good causes, by signing up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment. Other retailers across the country are now being urged to follow suit.”
Nationwide retailers that signed up to Scotland’s Carrier Bag Commitment – an agreement to disclose information on the charge, and donations made, to a central publicly available portal – are reporting that various charities up and down the country have also benefited from funds raised by the charge, with at least £6.7 million being donated to good causes.
Morrisons, the Co-operative and Waitrose have indicated a reduction of 80 per cent, with Asda reporting a drop of 90 per cent, while Sainsburys have witnessed 100 per cent reduction of single use carrier bags as they no longer offer them to shoppers.
Stephen Watkins, head of customer experience North & East Scotland at Boots UK, added:
“We want to help our customers care for the environment while making a difference in their local communities. We’ve seen a really positive effect in our stores in Scotland since the introduction of the charge in 2014, with an estimated reduction of around 80 per cent in carrier bag usage. We’ve also been able to offer significant support to Macmillan Cancer Support and the important work that they do for those affected by cancer in Scotland.
“From 5 October 2015 we are donating the net proceeds of the sale of these bags to BBC Children In Need. Together with our customers we can help make a difference to our environment and support community projects across Scotland the rest of the UK.”