Research exploring the current behaviours around carrier bag use and attitudes related to the use of bags for life and to the current 5p carrier bag charge amongst consumers in England.

Key points

  • The majority of English Citizens are concerned about plastic waste.

  • There is a high (near universal) awareness of the bag charge and it has broad support. This is driven by perceived environmental benefits, although awareness of how the charge monies are spent, and the contribution it makes to good causes, is much lower.

  • Almost all own a re-useable bag for life. These are used dominantly for large food shops, but less so for non-grocery shops on the high street and at retail parks. There is, by comparison, very little bag reuse in the takeaway to collect sector.

  • Despite high levels of bag for life ownership, a sizeable minority of close to one in three English citizens agree that they have bags at home that they do not use.

  • Close to one in four say they continue to purchase bags from the till when doing food shops. Two key reasons are forgetting to take bags from home, and not always knowing when they will be shopping and therefore will need to have the bags to hand.

  • Most carrier bags, irrespective of type, are disposed of from home in the recycling or general rubbish. There are potential missed capture and contamination issues associated with most carrier bag options. Levels of retailer take back/bag swaps are relatively low, even though there is widespread awareness that this option is available.

  • There are substantial knowledge and awareness gaps about biodegradable/ compostable bags with around one in four English citizens having not heard of either. There is also noticeable confusion particularly in terms of the correct way to dispose of them.

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  • Plastic carrier bag consumer research

    PDF, 1.86 MB