UK supermarket chains including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose, have signed an agreement with the Government to halve the number of plastic carrier bags they provide their customers. The agreement is part of a drive to cut waste.
The retailers have agreed to cut the number of disposable free plastic bags by spring next year. Other chains such as Asda, Co-Operative Group and Somerfield have also signed the voluntary agreement.
In 2006, about 13 billion single-use plastic carrier bags were issued by supermarkets to their consumers.
The Government is planning to have shops reduce the plastic bag usage by 70% “in the longer term”. Environment Minister Jane Kennedy says that this “bold commitment will result in around five billion fewer bags being handed out”.
Tesco corporate and legal affairs director, Lucy Neville-Rolfe says: “These are challenging targets for the industry and the government’s longer term targets are even more stretching.”
In the past, retailers have reduced the use of plastic bags by employing different initiatives. In May, Marks & Spenser started charging 5p for a bag while Tesco and Sainsbury’s removed the free bags out of the check-out desks. Tesco also offered a rewards scheme called Green Clubcard Points to customers who carried their own bags.