Could plastic bag use rise 40% in one year?

Media reports this morning are claiming that a ‘confidential draft report’ to the federal government shows that plastic shopping bag use soared last year:

Bag use dropped steadily to 3.36 billion a year in 2006, but spiked back up to 4.84 billion in 2007, the report said.

Now I can think of at least one reason that this report is ‘draft’: that number fails a basic ‘does it look right?’ test. Despite the active efforts of retailers to reduce plastic bag use – supermarkets with their canvas bags, other retailers switching back to paper – and consumers declining additional bags when a new item can go in an existing bag, per capita use actually increased 40% in just one year?

The people writing that report would need a very good theory to explain that before I would believe it. The most obvious explanation I can think of is that either or both of the 2006 and 2007 figures are wrong.

Such a shonky set of numbers is worthy of re-opening my old Catallaxy-era ‘dubious research’ category.