Retailers defend plastic bag record

Supermarkets have defended their efforts to reduce carrier bag use after being slammed by the Government for a 5% rise in plastic bags used at checkouts in the past year.

/i/n/d/plasticbags160.jpg

The figures, released by WRAP reveal that 6.4 billion single-use bags were used by supermarket customers in the UK in 2010.

Lord Henley, the Government’s Recycling Minister, says retailers must “lift their game” and cut the number of bags given out or face legislation.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarkets, says that a small increase in the number of bags given out by retailers in 2010 should not overshadow “major progress” made by the sector.

It claims that across the UK 40% fewer plastic bags were used in 2010 compared to 2006.

Marks & Spencer, which already charges customers 5p per plastic bag in stores, stands by its efforts and maintains that it is still seeing an 80% reduction in carrier bag use compared to before it started charging.

The retailer claims 94 million plastic bags were given out at its checkouts in 2010. In 2006 the number was 464 million.

M&S recently relaunched its carrier bag reduction campaign as part of its Forever Fish initiative and donates profits from the sales of bags to charities including WWF and education and conservation projects.

Tesco and Sainsbury’s both encourage consumers to reuse carrier bags through loyalty points.

Sainsbury’s also claims to have minimised the environmental impact of its single use bags by reducing their size and weight and increasing their recycled content to 50%.

British Retail Consortium head of environment, Bob Gordon, says: “Retailers, working with consumers, will continue to do all they can to drive down the number of carrier bags being given out wherever possible but it’s time to accept bags are not the be all and end all of environmental issues.”

He warns that an obsession with plastic bag reduction must not get in the way of bigger green goals as retailers address more significant environmental issues such as energy use and waste.

Latest from Marketing Week

Marketoonist on GDPR

The Marketoonist

Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here