Since the introduction of the 5p plastic bag charge in October £26.7 million of plastic bags are believed to have been stolen in England alone.
A new poll by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk found that half of all English shoppers have admitted taking bags without paying for them.
The thefts are thought to have occurred at the self-service checkouts where customer honesty is the only impediment to stealing the bags, reports the Telegraph.
George Charles of VoucherCodesPro.co.uk said: ‘The carrier bag charge has been brought in to reduce the number of bags used in Britain every year. It’s been a big success in Wales and I’m sure it will be in England too.
‘The fact that over half of people in England aren’t paying for their career bags is quite scary. This means that the effect isn’t as desired and carrier bags will still be prominent in the English shop.
‘Action needed to be taken and I hope people in England start to take responsibility over their carrier bags.’
The government had planned to raise £700 million for charity with the 5p charge.
Retailers can choose which charity they donate the money raised in their stores to.