Tesco's curb on plastic bags dismissed as 'greenwash'

A A A

Tesco has come up with a plan to wean Britain off its addiction to free plastic bags by rewarding customers financially for taking back old bags to its shops.

Britain's biggest supermarket chain said yesterday that from 14 August anyone reusing old carrier bags would receive extra points in its Clubcard loyalty scheme. Tesco - regularly damned for its record on the environment - aims to reduce the number of bags it gives away annually from four billion to three billion by 2008. But environmental campaigners described the move as "PR spin".

A television advertising campaign to cut bag use will feature celebrities including Martine McCutcheon, Frankie Dettori and Alan Titchmarsh.

There is growing concern about the damage done by Britain's use of carrier bags, which are made from oil, cause litter and pose a threat to marine life. The country uses up to 17 billion plastic carrier bags.

Ikea has begun charging 5p a bag and last month Lord Rooker, the environment minister, suggested supermarkets could be limited to using only plain bags to make them less attractive to distribute. Other proposals being discussed include a tax, such as that introduced in Ireland where a levy of 15 cents a bag led to a 90 per cent fall in the number used.

Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco's chief executive, said that research showed his customers wanted a carrot rather than a stick to solve the problem. He said: "Carrier bags are an important part of the shopping trip, providing convenience for millions of customers, especially those who walk to our stores. But we know that many people are concerned about how many bags they use." The proposal follows a 10-point Community Plan announced by Tesco in May, which includes increasing recycling, installing windmills at stores and, from next month, introducing degradable plastic bags.

Friends of the Earth's supermarket campaigner, Sandra Bell, said that Tesco's latest plan showed that the store chain was "more interested in PR spin than substance".

She added: "This is typical of the greenwash that Tesco has been churning out over recent months," she said. "Even if it meets its target to reduce the number of bags being used, Tesco will still be handing out three billion plastic bags a year. And this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the mountains of packaging waste the chain creates." Although Tesco might reduce energy use per store by 2010, the overall amount it used would increase because of its expansion. She added that Tesco's degradable bags were still made from oil.

She said: "Until it sets ambitious targets for reducing the mountains of food packaging that it is responsible for, it cannot claim to be making a serious commitment to tackling waste."

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam