Plastic bag toll raised £58m for good causes last year

The government also announced that the amount of money donated per bag sold in England rose from 3.9p to 4.3p in the year to 6 April

The plastic bag levy in England raised more than £58m for good causes in the year to 6 April 2018, the government has announced.

The amount of money per bag sold that was donated to good causes also increased, from 3.9p to 4.3p, the announcement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said today.

The plastic bag levy, which was introduced by the government in 2016, requires all retailers that employ at least 250 staff to charge 5p for single-use plastic bags.

The government expects that money raised through the levy is donated to good causes, once the costs of producing the bags are deducted.

The latest figures show that £58.5m was raised for good causes in 2017/18, £8m less than the year before.

But the government said that changes to the way retailers provide information about the amount raised for good causes by the levy meant the figures on donations in 2017/18 and 2016/17 were not directly comparable.

Approximately two-thirds of eligible retailers reported how much they donated to good causes, although Marks & Spencer and Poundland were notable exceptions despite having previously reported this data, the government said.

The retailers who did report where their donations went accounted for 77 per cent of all the single-use bags sold in the UK, the government said.

Of the money donated, £31.5m went to charities, health or environmental causes, with another £21.4m going to local causes chosen by customers or staff, according to the government. Another £5.4m went to "combined good causes", the figures show.

The overall number of single-use plastic bags reported fell from 2.12 billion to 1.75 billion, the figures show.

The total number of single-use bags sold by the seven main retailers – Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, the Cooperative Group, Waitrose, Asda and Marks & Spencer – fell from 1.33 billion in 2016/17 to 1.04 billion last year.

This was mainly due to Tesco deciding to stop issuing single-use plastic bags halfway through the year, the government said.

The number of bags sold per head of population fell from 38 in 2016/17 to 32 last year, the figures show.

- This article was amended on 27 July 2018 to make it clear the funds were raised by retailers in England. 

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