Bag for life scandal: Shops are using TWICE as much plastic in their bags despite crackdown on single-use bags in major blow to green credentials
- New figures show Tesco distributed around 430 million bags for life last year
- Sainsbury’s handed out a further 268 million of the heavy-duty carrier bags
- Morrisons were responsible for a further 140 million according to new figures
- Environmental campaigners want the tax increased to £1 per bag
Supermarkets are selling customers billions of 10p ‘bags for life’ which contain twice as much plastic as 5p single-use bags, it was reported last night.
It comes despite attempts by stores to reduce waste by cutting down on carrier bags.
‘Bags for life’ are reusable alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
New figures show Tesco distributed around 430 million bags for life last year
Bags for life contain twice as much plastic as the previous disposable products, pictured
But major retailers are using more plastic overall to manufacture bags for life than in thin single-use bags.
British retailers handed out a total of 1.18billion of them last year – at a cost of around 10p a bag. In the 12 months to the end of June, Tesco distributed 430million bags for life – the highest number for a supermarket.
Environmental Investigation Agency figures show Sainsbury’s gave out 268million, Morrisons 140million, Aldi 52million, Co-op 28million Waitrose 22million, M&S 14million and Iceland 3.5million.
Environmental campaigners are calling on retailers to increase the cost of bags for life to at least £1 in order to clamp down on their use. The 5p charge for single-use bags, implemented in 2015, was brought in after years of Banish The Bags campaigning by the Daily Mail.
The number of 5p bags sold by British retailers dropped by around a fifth last year to 12billion. Environment Secretary Michael Gove is reportedly planning to hike the price of these bags to 10p. He is also expected to extend the charge to small shops, which are currently able to give out plastic bags without making customers pay.
But Mr Gove is not planning to take any action on plastic bags for life, according to the Times.
The EIA’s Sarah Baulch said the success of the 5p charge was being undermined by supermarkets selling bags for life too cheaply. She suggested a charge of £1 or more should be imposed to reduce consumption. It comes as supermarkets have been accused of using far more plastic bags than needed for home deliveries. Customers claim stores are using a loophole to use an excessive number of bags when packing food for delivery or for online customers picking their order up at the shop.
They complained that supermarkets often pack just one item per bag. The bags are sometimes used even when they have ticked ‘no bags’ on the website.
Environmental charities accused the retailers of failing to take public outrage over ‘pointless plastic’ seriously. Paul Morozzo, ocean plastic campaigner for Greenpeace UK, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Supermarkets claim to be concerned by the plastic tragedy befalling our oceans, and responsive to the outrage from the public.
‘But little scandals like this, where they foist pointless plastic packaging on customers who have specifically asked them not to, demonstrate that they’re unlikely to take the problem seriously until they’re paying for it.’
Sainsbury’s and Tesco said they can take away and recycle unwanted bags. Asda said: ‘To support food safety, some fresh food products are currently bagged on home shopping orders.’