Ocado angers customers by charging 5p for bags without offering opt out

Customers are urging the supermarket to go bagless 

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Online supermarket Ocado has angered its customers by announcing it will be charging 5p for grocery bags, without giving shoppers the chance to opt out.

The upmarket grocer emailed its customers to alert them that Government legislation imposing a 5p charge for plastic bags would come into force on 5 October, highlighting how the change will protect the environment.

Ocado explained in the email: "From the 5th October we will charge 5p for each bag used to pack your shopping. The legislation applies to all single-use plastic carrier bags, which includes the ones we must use to make sure your groceries arrive undamaged and in tip-top condition. The additional charge will appear on your receipt."

The proceeds from the bags will go towards “good causes” including its Bag Recylce Bonus, where customers will be given 5p in exchange for any carrier bags they give back to Ocado to recycle, the supermarket said. 

However, shoppers complained that the store did not go far enough, and argued it should use crates rather than bags like other supermarkets, or allow customers to refuge plastic bags.

Frustrated customers took to Twitter to complain about the new rules.

Some also claimed that the supermarket does not pack bags efficiently, and that some arrive containing only item. 

Suzanne Westlake, head of corporate responsibility at Ocado, told The Mirror: “With our natural advantage in this area, our business model is built around efficiency and low waste. We've been operating a closed loop recycling scheme for many years now and our drivers have always taken back plastic bags - both our own and others - during a delivery, which we then make into new bags.

“We'll be continuing with this scheme but will shortly also be paying customers if they return bags back to us to reward them for helping us to help the environment.

“Our Bag Recycle Bonus Scheme will help us to meet the aims of this new carrier bag charging legislation in England, reducing littering and damage to marine wildlife.”

The Government hopes the new rules will encourage shoppers to reuse carrier bags and reduce their use, in an attempt to stop them littering pavements and filling landfills. 

Shops with more than 250 must enforce the law, while smaller stores can impose the charge if they choose to.