The Minister has also said that the significant rise in carrier bag use in England and Scotland over the last year proves that that a mandatory charge for carrier bags, like the one being introduced in Wales in October 2011, is the best way to drive down carrier bag use, and that voluntary agreements with retailers will not take us far enough.
Speaking about today’s Wrap figures which give details of number of carrier bags given out by the major supermarkets in the 2009/10, the Welsh Environment Minister said:
“I am pleased by today’s figures which show that the use of carrier bags in Wales is continuing to decline year on year. I applaud the Welsh public for their ongoing efforts to live more sustainably.
“These figures show a real difference between carrier bag use in Wales and that in other parts of the UK where no mandatory charge is planned.
“This proves that the carrier bag charge, which is due to be introduced in Wales on 1 October, is the only way to ensure a real and lasting reduction in the use of carrier bags.
“Here in Wales the imminent introduction of our carrier bag charge is ensuring that people in Wales are still thinking about and talking about the problem of carrier bags.
“They know about the environmental and litter issues associated with carrier bags and they know that from October they will have to remember to reuse their bags to avoid a 5p charge. The charge is also encouraging Welsh shoppers to get into the habit of taking their own bags with them when they go shopping.
“There’s no doubt that we still have a long way to go in reducing carrier bag use in Wales as the figures show that last year 329 million bags were given out by the major supermarkets alone. But I am confident that our carrier bag charge will help us to drive down carrier bag use much further and I hope next year’s figures will show another significant reduction.
“I applaud the Welsh public for their ongoing efforts and urge them to keep up the good work.”
The Wrap figures show that carrier bag use has also reduced dramatically in Northern Ireland, where a carrier bags charge is currently under consideration.