Top supermarkets fall just short on bag reduction

Britain’s top supermarkets have narrowly failed in their aim of cutting the number of plastic bags they give to their customers by half.

Tesco bag

At the end of last year, seven of the country’s biggest retailers – Asda, Co-operative, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose – pledged to reduce the number of single-use carrier bags used by customers by 50 per cent by the end of May 2009 compared with May 2006.

However, the seven came up just short at 48%.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents the seven, says the reduction has been achieved by retailer initiatives such as the provision of free re-usable bags and a consumer campaign funded by Defra.

Some retailers such as M&S now charge for plastic bags to carry food.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, called the reduction a “spectacular achievement”.

“Changing customer habits on this scale, this quickly, isn’t easy. But it’s a huge testament to customers, who’ve switched to bags for life and cut bag usage,” he says.

The figures have been compiled from the seven participating retailers by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme).

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