Morrisons is to sell 20p paper carrier bags as an alternative to plastic in all stores by next month following a successful trial. The bags are made in Wales from sustainably managed forests and are strong enough to carry heavy weights up to 16kg. The supermarket hopes the move will save an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic a year based on customer uptake during an eight-week trial across eight stores since January.
Welsh stores will be the first to offer paper carrier bags next week, followed by English and Scottish stores in May. The retailer said the Welsh-made reusable and ultimately recyclable bags had a carbon footprint equivalent to its standard plastic bags, which also now cost 20p.
With plastic use dropping by 85% at Britain’s ‘big seven’ supermarkets since October 2015, when the Government introduced the mandatory 5p charge.
Andy Atkinson, group customer and marketing director at Morrisons, said: “We are taking another meaningful step that will remove an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic out of the environment each year.
“Our customers have told us that reducing plastic is their number one environmental concern so introducing the paper bag across the nation will provide another way of reducing the plastic in their lives.”
Morrisons removed 5p plastic carrier bags early in 2018 which led to a 25% reduction in overall bag sales.The 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in England in October 2015 and all large retailers have been required to introduce the charge.
Similar schemes run in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Figures from the Government at the end of 2018 showed that nearly two billion 5p plastic bags were sold in the last financial year.This is a stark reduction from 2014, when 7.6 billion carrier bags – the equivalent of 140 per person – were handed out solely by England’s seven largest supermarkets.
The end of the throwaway culture
At the end of 2018 it emerged that the original 5p charge on thin carrier bags would double to 10p as part of the Government’s plan to end Britain’s “throwaway culture” by 2020. An estimated 3.6 billion single-use bags are supplied free each year by England’s 250,000 small retailers. Under the new rules – that will come into force in 2020 – smaller shops will no longer be exempt from the charge.