Put UP the price of bags for life to 70p
Plea to raise cost so shoppers use carriers again
GREEN campaigners are calling for a significant increase in the cost of reusable plastic ‘bags for life’ amid evidence that supermarkets are not delivering on promises to cut waste.
Only a charge as high as 70p a bag will encourage people to remember to take carriers they have previously bought when they go shopping rather than buying a new one each time, Greenpeace said.
The call came as a study found seven out of ten supermarkets increased their use of plastic last year, with the total across all the mainstream grocery chains rising from an estimated 886,021 tons to 903,126 tons.
Sales of bags for life at eight of the chains rose by 30 per cent from 2018 to this year, to around 1.2billion. The total sold by all ten was 1.5billion, an average of around 54 per household.
Shoppers have been switching to heavy-duty bags for life – costing 10p to 20p – after the Government introduced a 5p levy on single-use carriers. But many people end up keeping them at home rather than using them each time they go shopping.
The bags contain three times more plastic than standard carriers, making them less environmentally friendly to produce and dispose of. The Daily Mail’s
Turn The Tide On Plastic campaign has highlighted the blight of plastic pollution.
Campaigners say the decision by the Irish government to bring in a 60p charge on heavy-duty bags led to a 90 per cent cut in their use. Morrisons noted a 38 per cent fall in sales after it raised the price to 30p in 31 stores.
The details are contained in a report from the Environment Investigation Agency campaign group and Greenpeace. Greenpeace UK’s Fiona Nicholls said: ‘Bags for life are increasingly being treated as bags for a week, fuelling rather than fixing our plastics crisis. Supermarkets are pumping out more plastic than ever – and so-called bags for life are a symptom of that.
‘Retailers must raise the charge to 70p and, if that fails, move to a complete ban on plastic bags for life.’
The study produced a league table of stores that have done the most to reduce all forms of plastic use. In first place is Waitrose, with Morrisons second and Sainsbury’s third. The worst performer was German budget chain Aldi, just behind US-owned Asda.
Aldi said it was working to reduce plastic packaging by 25 per cent by 2023 but ‘we know there is much more to be done’.
The plastic bag levy was made law in Scotland in 2014 following a pioneering Daily Mail campaign.
In its first year the charge led to an 80 per cent drop in the use of throwaway carriers.
The UK Government brought in the 5p levy south of the Border in 2015.
Conservationists have said the charge on single-use carrier bags has helped to reduce the number of plastic bags found on beaches.
Meanwhile, Scots face a new charge of at least 20p on single-use drinks cups after the SNP confirmed plans for a ‘latte levy’.
The charge is set to be introduced in the Circular Economy Bill, with the level to be fixed after a consultation.