Health food retailer Holland & Barrett is introducing a total ban on plastic carrier bags as part of its environmental strategy Plan-It-Green to reduce waste.
From 1 January 2010 plastic carrier bags will be replaced by jute, cotton or paper carrier bags and a small fee will be charged. H&B gives out on average 7.6 million plastic bags a year.
H&B chief executive Peter Aldis said: Many retailers have introduced half measures such as charging for plastic bags in a bid to encourage their customers to shy away from using them.
But no-one has stepped up to the mark and banned plastic bags all together, until now. Were the first major retailer to take this stand, and I challenge the rest of the high street to follow us and move Britain a step closer to a total ban.
Aldis also said that H&B had recently invested in its own materials recycling facility based at its main distribution depot in Burton on Trent, where it processes 95 per cent of its waste.
The retailer aims to reduce the amount it sends by 30 per cent by the end of 2009 and aims to raise this to 50 per cent by 2012.
A plastic carrier bag charge introduced in the Republic of Ireland in 2002 has seen a 90% fall in the number of bags being used. The news comes as Welsh Environment Minister Jane Davidson announced this month that a compulsory charge of up to 15p on single-use carrier bags will be introduced in Wales by early 2011.
Aldis said that H&B wanted to encourage our Government to do the same thing because it will change consumer habits.
H&B legal director Roger Craddock said that the company had been thinking about introducing a ban for the past two years and was wary of customer perceptions. He said that some of its customers may be disappointed at not receiving a plastic bag when the ban comes into place, but paper bags will be offered for the short and medium-term as an alternative.
Other H&B waste initiatives:
· It has introduced an electronic communication system to reduce paper waste;
· It has in-store recycling bins.
· By 2012 it aims to ensure that more than 90 per cent of the packaging for own-label products is recyclable