Tesco is to replace single-use plastic carrier bags with a new ‘bag for life’ made from 94% recycled plastic.
The announcement of the new bag, which will cost 10p, follows trials in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, during which Tesco found that customers bought significantly fewer bags.
Sales of bags in trial stores fell 25% and customers moved to the reusable bag, which is replaceable for free if damaged.
Environment minister Therese Coffey said: “Since we introduced the 5p charge in 2015, the number of single-use plastic bags taken home has plummeted by 83%. I welcome Tesco wanting to go further and help their customers to use even fewer plastic bags.
”The switch to a bag for life will continue to help reduce litter and boost recycling – helping to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”
Tesco said it had given out 1.5 billion fewer single-use bags since the introduction of the carrier bag charge in England in 2015, but still sells more than 700 million a year. The changeover will take place on 28 August.
Online customers will still be able to opt for single-use carrier bags for their shopping or select a bagless delivery, which 57% of Tesco’s online customers are now doing. Tesco also announced it will be removing single-use wine carriers and lowering the price of its ‘carry me bottle bag’ from £1 to 40p.
The reusable bag will continue to fund Tesco’s ’Bags of Help’ scheme, which is delivered with Groundwork, by which local community projects are awarded grants, with Tesco customers voting for their favourite local project by picking up a blue token at the checkout each time they shop.
Matt Davies, Tesco chief executive, said: “The number of bags being bought by our customers has already reduced dramatically. Today’s move will help our customers use even fewer bags, but ensure that those sold in our stores continue to fund thousands of community projects across the country chosen by customers.
”It’s the right thing to do for the environment and for local communities.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Henry Chown welcomed the change and said he hoped that other retailers would follow suit.
“This initiative builds on the tremendous success of the Government’s bag charge, which has seen a dramatic reduction in plastic bags and cut pollution in our towns, seas and countryside.
“This shows that shoppers and businesses will take positive action when the Government leads. We now need similar moves to tackle disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles.”
- A version of this article first appeared in our sister title Packaging News.