Co-op to stop sale of plastic ‘bags for life’ over worries they’re being used ‘just once’

It is also introducing 10p compostable single-use bags

Ellie Abraham@ellieabraham
Friday 30 April 2021 09:30

Supermarket chain Co-op has announced it will stop selling plastic “bags for life” across all 2,600 stores, warning that the reusable carrier is being used as a single-use bag.

From April 30, the bags will be phased out and the brand will sell the last of its stock. All “bags for life” are expected to be sold by the end of the summer.

The new initiative is expected to remove 29.5 million bags for life, equating to 870 tonnes of plastic, from sale each year.

In addition, the retailer is replacing its plastic single-use carrier bags with 10p compostable carrier bags - a low-impact alternative to plastic.

Co-op believes supermarkets should be required to do more and calls for a policy that requires all major retailers to report on all bags sold so a better picture can be obtained.

It also wants all single-use bags to be compostable and the introduction of a 50p charge for reusable bags so customers are more inclined to use them more than once.

Bags for life use require more plastic than single-use bags in their production. Using them just once increases the amount of plastic in circulation.

Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “Increased use of bags for life has led to a sharp rise in plastic use.

“With over 1.5 billion bags sold each year by retailers, this remains a massive issue for our industry as many shoppers are regularly buying so-called bags for life to use just once and it’s leading to a major hike in the amount of plastic being produced.

“To help tackle plastic pollution and the use of unnecessary plastic, we will be ceasing the sale of bags for life when current stocks are exhausted.

“We’re also ensuring all of our members and customers have access to a low price point option that’s more environmentally friendly, alongside more durable bags at a higher price point.”

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