Virgin Megastores is introducing 100% recyclable carrier bags and has launched an in-store campaign encouraging customers to reuse existing bags.
The company currently uses 16 million bags annually across its 120 stores but wants to cut its contribution to the 10,000 tonnes of plastic bags thrown away in the UK each year.
Managing director Simon Douglas says: "Although the previous bags didn’t use the kind of biodegradable additive that organisations such as Friends of the Earth campaign against, they didn’t exactly degrade quickly either.
"Rather than using paper from sustainable forestry resources, we decided to go a step further and use paper recycled from waste that consumers had already used, as well as business waste such as factory off-cuts."
An in-store campaign consisting of staff training and A4 counter stands at till points will encourage customers to reuse plastic bags and to consider whether they need a bag at all.
Douglas added: "It’s no use asking customers to help the environment if we don’t get our own house in order and that is why the carrier bag initiative is just part of our wider environmental strategy, Virgin Aware."