Holland & Barrett’s boss has called on supermarkets to follow its lead and ban plastic bags following data showing grocers’ plastic bags usage was on the rise.

The health food retailer banned plastic bags across all of its stores in January 2010, replacing them with reusable fabric and paper bags.

Following research from waste reduction body Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which found that UK supermarket customers used almost 8 billion carrier bags in 2011, up 5.4% on 2010, Holland & Barrett chief executive Peter Aldis, has urged supermarkets to ban plastic bags.

“Many retailers introduced half measures such as charging for plastic bags in a bid to encourage customers to shy away from using them,” he said. “But no-one else stepped up to the mark and banned plastic bags all together. We have proven it can be done, and 800,000 customers who shop with us every week have praised us for it.”

Aldis also said he would support a move by the government to introduce of a tax on plastic bags.

“It is rare for a retailer to call for more taxes, but I would encourage the government to use tax pressures on retailers as other countries have proved it is purely a cultural change with the public that is required to achieve success,” he said.

Figures by WRAP showed that plastic bag usage in Wales had fallen by 22% after a minimum 5p levy was introduced.