British Supermarkets Achieve 5.1 Billion Cut In Plastic Bag Usage
The top UK retailers and supermarket chains have reduced the number of plastic bags they use by nearly 5.1 billion a year.
Last year a retail group comprising seven supermarket chains signed up voluntarily, to an initiative designed to reduce their impact on the environment, through the reduction of single-use carrier bags, by half the amount that were used in 2006.
Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, the Co-op, Somerfield and Marks and Spencer between them, slashed the number of bags handed out each month to customers by 48 per cent, from 870 million distributed monthly in 2006 to 452 million distributed monthly last year, just short of a full fifty per cent reduction.
Between them, supermarkets used schemes such as levying charges for plastic carrier bags and providing customers incentives for bringing re-usable bags, enabling the retailers to become more eco-friendly.
The reduction in usage of bags has meant there has been a 56 per cent reduction in the amount of plastic used to manufacture the bags, and most impressive, 4,000 tonnes of less waste destined for landfills every month.
Director General of the British Retail Consortium, Stephen Robertson said the results were incredible given that supermarket sales had increased by 5 per cent a year during the course of the initiative.
“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. Hard working retail staff also deserve credit, as do supermarkets. “he said.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn added: “This is a great achievement by the seven supermarkets and their customers and it shows that by working together, we really can change our bag habits.”
“The target of a 50 per cent reduction was only narrowly missed and retailers have really put a lot into this in the last six months.”
Environmentalists say plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to disintegrate and pose threats to marine life, birds and other animals.
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