Tesco to drop single use carrier bags in favour of more expensive ‘bags for life’

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TESCO yesterday announced that from 28 August single use carrier bags will be replaced by a new ‘Bag for Life’ made from 94 per cent recycled plastic. The new bag will be priced at 10p and sales of the bag will fund community projects across Britain.

The announcement follows a successful 10-week trial in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, where Tesco found that customers bought significantly fewer bags.

Sales of bags in trial stores have since reduced by 25 per cent and customers found that the Bag for Life, which is replaceable for free if damaged, helped them move to re-useable bags.

Matt Davies, UK and ROI CEO at Tesco, said on Monday:’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.’

Tesco has given out 1.5 billion fewer single use bags since the introduction of the carrier bag charge in England in 2015, but still sells over 700 million of these each year.

And the supermarket says that removing single use carrier bags will significantly reduce the number of bags sold and will therefore help reduce litter and bags sent to landfill.

‘It’s great to see major retailers moving away from disposable plastic. For too long we’ve seen plastic as something to be used once and thrown away,’

Louise Edge, senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK told our sister paper i.

The new Bag for Life will continue to fund Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme, which is delivered with Groundwork, and sees local community projects across Great Britain awarded grants, with Tesco customers voting for their favourite local project by picking up a blue token at the checkout each time they shop.

Since launching in 2015, Bags of Help has provided more than £33 million to over 6,400 local community projects. The scheme has until now been funded through the levy placed on single-use bags.

Competitors Sainsbury’s made the switch to sturdier, reusable bags in October 2015, but the Supermarket later attracted criticism after it was revealed that they lagged behind other Supermarkets in terms of charitable donations - only handing over 1p per bag to good causes.

Thicker bags are not subject to the same rules as disposable bags and supermarkets can decide to donate however much or little they like to charity.

A spokesperson for Tesco confirmed today that once the cost of making the bags and VAT was taken into account “all of the profit from the sale of the new bags will go to charity.’

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey added:“Since we introduced the 5p charge in 2015, the number of single-use plastic bags taken home has plummeted by 83 per cent.

‘I welcome Tesco wanting to go further and help their customers 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.’

Commenting on Bags of Help Graham Duxbury, Groundwork’s Chief Executive, said:

‘Since it launched in 2015 Bags of Help has had an incredible impact on the environment – through the reduction of carrier bags used in Tesco stores and by providing funding for community groups to develop local projects that benefit the people and the places where they live.

‘This step will see those environmental benefits increase, and we’re delighted that communities will continue to be able to access Bags of Help funding.’