Carrier bag use in the UK in 2012 increased by 1.3 percent compared with figures published in 2011, however, there was a 2.6 percent decrease in the overall weight of the bags, according to the latest data published by WRAP.
The figures show that 8.1 billion thin-gauge (single-use) bags were used by supermarket customers in the UK in 2012, compared with 8 billion in 2011. However, WRAP says this latest data still represents a decrease of 34 percent compared with the 12.2 billion used in 2006, when reporting began.
In 2012, total carrier bags (which include re-usable bags) weighed 70,400 tonnes, compared with 72,300 tonnes in 2011, which represents a 2.6 percent decrease. Overall there has been a 36 percent decrease in the weight of carrier bags from the baseline year of 2006.
So despite the overall number of bags issued increasing between 2011 and 2012, the weight has fallen, which is due to a fall in the average weight of bags.
There has been a 50 percent reduction in the amount of virgin polymer used in all carrier bags between the baseline of 2006 and 2012, according to WRAP.
Barry Turner, Chief Executive of the Packaging and Film Association, commented on the latest figures, stating: “This should not be about numbers of bags but the constantly reducing impacts those bags have, it should be remembered that these are supermarket figures only and there is now 51 percent less virgin plastic in carrier bags and 65 percent less carbon impacts.”
In 2012, retailers for the first time supplied information about front-of-store recycling of carrier bags. The results show that around 60 percent of stores had recycling facilities available.
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.
For more information on WRAP’s carrier bag data, please visit: http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/carrier-bags-reducing-their-environmental-impact