PAUL O’BRIEN: Bag charge has benefits for environment and charities

Paul O'Brien
Paul O'Brien

Nine months ago there was a monumental change in our shopping habits which has been hugely successful.

The 5p charge for plastic bags has been in force since October 5 last year and the figures now coming out show the huge change this has made.

In 2014 it was estimated that Tesco, just on its own, handed out in excess of two billion plastic bags to shoppers.

The seven major supermarkets combined totalled 7.6 billion bags in 2014.

This is equal to 140 per person, per year and 61,000 tonnes of plastic.

Fast forward just a few months and Tesco’s plastic bag usage is down 78 per cent – an incredible change in how we get our shopping home.

Their online delivery service has also seen 50 per cent of customers choose the ‘bagless’ delivery service.

Can you imagine the massive amount of plastic that is now not polluting our atmosphere if we were to include the whole high street?

On top of this, let’s not forget about the 5p charity charge for those who do still buy a bag.

Tesco’s communications director has been quoted as saying that they are on course to raise over £30million for charity from this charge alone.

Again, combine all the supermarkets and you can only imagine how much extra is being raised for good causes.

Small shops like myself aren’t yet required to charge, although many have, and I would estimate that our bag give-out is down the same percentage as the major brands.

While some sceptics were unsure that this charge would work it’s amazing how it has now become a normal part of our shopping life and just what a difference it is making to not only the environment but charitable causes.

If you are stuck for a bag for life then look out for Sharon Clark at any Town Centre Initiative event – she normally has a few ‘Sunny Worthing’ ones to give out, meaning you can advertise our lovely town everywhere you go!

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