Price of plastic

September 06, 2010, 8:54 PM GMT+0

Public opinion on the issue of charging for plastic bags is decidedly mixed, a new ethical living report from YouGov SixthSense reveals. 32% of UK consumers agree with the scheme as it will reduce the overall number being used. However, 1 in 4 respondents (24%) think such a scheme is a ploy by supermarkets to make more money.

Although wholesale support for bag charges may be lacking, the research reveals that people are willing to make the effort to reduce the consumption of free plastic bags provided by their supermarket. 43% of consumers say that they often use a ‘bag for life’ when doing their grocery shopping, while 29% of respondents often take the resourceful option of reusing plastic bags that they may already have at home.

Despite supermarkets’ best efforts to promote the use of fashionably designed, environmentally friendly alternatives, 1 in 3 UK adults (35%) say they still use free plastic bags provided by the grocery retailer.

29% of respondents say that financial rewards would encourage them to use bags for life or reuse plastic bags they already have in their home. 16% of consumers claimed that they would like to see the clear benefit to the community of going green, while 23% required evidence of the benefits of such schemes to the environment.

James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov SixthSense, commented on notable regional differences on the subject of plastic bag use, 'Londoners are not keen on the idea of suffering a charge for plastic bags: they are least likely to use ‘bags for life’ and are the most sceptical about retailers’ motivations for charging consumers for bags. This attitude stems from the nature of London life and metropolitan life more generally. The average Londoner relies on public transport – car owners often leave their bag for life in the boot of their car, readily available for unplanned supermarket stops but those who do not own their own vehicle do not enjoy this luxury.'

See the YouGov SixthSense UK Retail Market Report

For more information, contact Stephen Harmston, Head of YouGov SixthSense