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Carrier bags' impact reduced by 14%, says WRAP

The environmental impact of carrier bags was reduced by 14% in 2007, according to a review of retailers initiative results. This follows agreements made a year ago, between the Government and 21 retailers to reduce the impact of carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008.

Results based on data provided by retailers were revealed at a review meeting hosted by the Waste & Resources Action Programme. WRAP said the environmental impact was measured by the use of virgin plastic and bags used by retailers had been reduced by 1 billion bags.

However, retailer performance was varied. The range went from a 70% reduction in virgin plastic use to an increase of 22% in one case. WRAP said it was disappointed that there was not more progress on the actual number of bags reduced.

WRAP director of retail Richard Swannell said: [This meeting] and recent developments show that there is now clear momentum  from retailers although clearly more work needs to be done. The carrier bag agreement between retailers and Government is highlighting valuable examples of ways forward, such as the maximum reuse of carrier bags, the widespread adoption of bags for life and the use of recycled content in bags.

Popular initiatives to reduce bag impacts included: incentive card point schemes; promotion of reusable bags; bags dispensed by cashier only; introduction of in-store bag recycling facilities, which have increased by 43%; reduced bag size; and the introduction of bags with increased recycled content.

Image: WRAP director of retail Richard Swannell

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