Plastic Bag Tax Two Year Anniversary

Plastic shopping bags at a food market

It’s two years since the ‘carrier bag tax’ was rolled out across the UK and it’s been hailed a success by many. Introduced in a bid to change consumer behaviour and reduce the amount of single-use plastics being used, the 5p charge was applied to carrier bags in shops and supermarkets with the proceeds going to good causes. 

Big Numbers, Big Money

Since the tax came into effect, the UK’s biggest retailers have reported a drop in carrier bag sales of 85%, a staggering change in consumer habits which equates to each person using around 140 bags in 2014 and 25 in 2016. 

In 2016, more than two billion carrier bags were sold in the UK – more than half of which came from the seven largest retailers: Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons, M&S, The Co-Op and Waitrose. In the past year, the charge has raised more than £66million for good causes and charities. Many retailers letting customers choose the recipient. 

Bags for Life

Sainsburys changed all of its bags to thicker, reusable bags when the 5p charge began in 2015 and this August Tesco followed suit, now only selling 10p bags-for-life. Tesco trialled the move for ten weeks across three cities and found a 25% cut in bag sales as customers returned with their reusable bags. Tesco now only offer single-use bags for online deliveries, which they say only around half of their customers require. The UK’s biggest retailer upping the fee will surely encourage other companies to follow their lead. Now that plastic ‘taxes’ have entered the public consciousness, attention is turning to other industries. 

What’s Next? 

A proposed Deposit Return Scheme for plastic bottles could see a levy on single-use plastic bottles of water and drinks. Similar proposals are being proposed for single-use items such as straws, coffee cups and disposable utensils. This year, pub-chain Wetherspoons announced they will stop offering plastic straws and from next year will use biodegradable paper ones instead. Many businesses in the hospitality trade are now charging a small fee for straws – which are only given out when asked for rather than as a standard with each drink – until they have used up their stock of plastic and switch to paper. 

Reducing single-use plastic items is necessary to reduce our impact on the environment and it seems likely that many more charges will come into effect in the next decade in an attempt to change habits. Recycling plastic stops it from going into landfill or the sea. We are keen to encourage the production of goods made with recyclable and recycled materials. At Coda Plastics, we recycle all of our waste plastic and we even take in waste plastic from other factories and use it in our products.

We have the facilities to help your product be more environmentally-friendly, for more information on any of our processes or services, contact our team at or call +44 1692 501020.

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