Environment Minister Jane Kennedy has thrown her support behind retailers' efforts to get shoppers to resuse carrier bags, after new research showed the average person in the UK uses 13,000 in their life.

"We simply can't continue using the billions of new carrier bags we do every year, it's such a huge waste and a visible symbol of our throwaway society," said Kennedy.

"If we really can get a bag habit and remember to reuse our bags, it puts us on the right track to doing even more to reduce the amount of waste we're sending to landfill."

In the Get a Bag Habit campaign, organised jointly by the BRC and the Government, radio adverts and free posters available to retailers will encourage the reuse of bags.

Since 2006 retailers have reduced the number of bags given out by 26%, but 9.9 billion were still given away in the UK last year. Seven supermarket chains have vowed to improve on this reduction by cutting bag handouts by 50% by May this year.

"This is a symbolic step towards using resources more wisely," said Jane Milne, BRC business environment director.

"This is in addition to retailers' other green initiatives, such as providing in-store recycling facilities and launching a universal recycling label."