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Ikea starts charging for plastic carrier bags

Swedish furniture company Ikea started charging customers for plastic carrier bags at its UK stores this week.

From June 5 Ikea reduced the cost of its re-usable blue bags to 25p, and started charging 5p per plastic carrier bag. Once stores have exhausted their stocks of existing non-biodegradable bags, they will switch to offering biodegradable carrier bags, which will be charged at 10p each. Its re-usable blue bags can be replaced free of charge if they wear out.

The move follows a successful trial that has run at Ikea’s Edinburgh store for the last two years, which saw plastic bag consumption drop by 90%.

Working with the Environment Agency, the company estimates its reforms will reduce plastic bag consumption by 20 million bags during 2007.

Ikea environment manager Charlie Browne said: “The UK is addicted to plastic bags, and we are paying a high price for this in environmental terms.”

The Liberal Democrats welcomed the announcement. Shadow environment secretary Chris Huhne said: “The Government should look again at introducing some form of plastic bag tax or charge for the whole country, which will make supermarkets and consumers think twice before they give away and use plastic bags in the first place.”

Ikea says it will not gain financially from the charging, with money raised going to Community Forests.

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