THE number of single-use carrier bags handed out by UK retailers rose again last year to more than 8.3 billion.

In Scotland, which is bringing in a levy this year, there was a six per cent increase in the number of plastic bags handed out by retailers, with the total number going up to 800 million.

The average person north of the Border uses 12.6 single-use bags every month, according to statistics from waste reduction body Wrap.

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The Scottish Government has announced plans to bring in a new charging regime, with shoppers to be charged 5p for single-use bags from October.

The proceeds will go to charity, with good causes expected to receive up to £5 million a year thanks to the scheme.

Across the UK, the number of single-use carrier bags provided to customers by supermarkets rose 3.2 per cent between 2012 and 2013, the fourth year-on-year rise in a row, and has risen more than a tenth (10.1 per cent) since 2010.

But the number of single-use plastic bags handed out has fallen by 29 per cent since the figures were first collated in 2006.

The number of reusable "bags for life" provided by retailers has almost doubled since 2006, up from 245 million that year to 424 million in 2013.

Northern Ireland saw the number of bags handed out plummet by 71 per cent as a carrier bag charge was introduced in April 2013, making it the only part of the UK to register a fall.