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WRAP: carrier bag shift towards recycled materials

United Kingdom – A total of 8 billion ‘€˜thin-gauge’€™ carrier bags were used by consumers at supermarkets all across the UK in 2011, which represents a 5.4% rise compared with the 7.6 billion bags of the previous year, reveals the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in a recent publication.

‘€˜Even taking this into account, the figures reveal that there has been a 51% reduction in the amount of virgin polymer used in the manufacturing process since 2006,’€™ the report states. The ‘€˜overall downward trend’€™ suggests that more recycled materials are being applied in today’€™s industry.

When comparing the volume of bags used by consumers throughout 2006, last year’€™s results represent a sharp decline of around 35% from the 12.2 billion baseline. In 2011, UK carrier bags weighed a total of 72 300 tonnes compared to 68 300 tonnes in 2010 and to 109 800 tonnes in 2006.

Additional data for 2011 show distinctions between the different countries making up the UK in terms of bags issued at supermarkets, with Wales witnessing a 22% fall, England a 7.5% rise, Northern Ireland an 8.1% rise and Scotland a 0.3% drop. WRAP notes the disparity can be partly attributed to legislation, remarking that ‘€˜the Welsh carrier bag charge had a substantial immediate effect’€™. This relates to the minimum 5 pence fee consumers are charged for taking single-use carrier bags.

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