The number of plastic bags handed out by supermarkets and shops has fallen from 13.4 billion to 9.9 billion since 2006, according to new figures from the waste-reduction agency WRAP.

The amount of plastic used in this period has also been reduced by 40%, with more recycled materials used in shopping bags.

The Government has set a target for retailers to cut the use of plastic bags by 50% by May 2009, which would save 130,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of taking 41,000 cars off the road.

Environment Minister John Kennedy said: ‘This is great progress made by both retailers and shoppers, and shows that reduced our reliance on carrier bags is becoming a way of life.’

Dickey Felton from Keep Britain Tidy says: ‘We’ve seen an increase in the number of plastic bags on our streets. We hope that supermarkets’ initiatives to reduce plastic-bag use will lead to a reduction in the number of bags ending up as litter.’

In our 2006 Manifesto, Country Life advocated the use of fewer plastic bags, and we were delighted to see new initiatives across Britain, such as the National Trust and M&S charging for plastic bags and Sainsbury’s giving away free Bags for Life.

Read about plastic-bag banning in our 2006 Manifesto, or read our latest initiatives in our 2008 Manifesto.

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