Retailers have reduced the number of carrier bags given to consumers for the fourth consecutive year.

In the year to 31 May, 6.1bn bags were handed out to consumers – down from 6.7bn last year and almost 10.7bn in 2006. That was despite sales volumes increasing by 6% since 2006.

However, the reduction again fell short of an industry pledge to cut bag use by 50% between 2006 and 2009.

Despite the target again being missed, Stephen Robertson of the British Retail Consortium hailed a “tremendous achievement by supermarkets, customers and staff”.

“The sustained reduction shows that customers are permanently adopting the habit of re-using their bags,” he said. “The voluntary approach continues to make good progress through individual retailer initiatives that take customers with them.”

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