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Tesco scraps 5p carrier bags in favour of ‘Bag for Life’

Published: 7 August 2017 - Fiona Garcia

Tesco has today announced that from August 28, it will no longer make single-use carrier bags available to customers, replacing them instead with a new 10p ‘Bag for Life’ made from 94% recycled plastic.

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% and customers found that the Bag for Life, which is replaceable for free if damaged, helped them move to re-useable bags. The supermarket chain added that sales of the 10p bag will fund community projects across Britain.

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. The grocer believes that by removing single-use carrier bags, it will significantly reduce the number of bags sold and will, therefore, help reduce litter and the number of bags sent to landfill.

Customers ordering their shopping online will still be able to opt for single-use carrier bags or select a bagless delivery – something 57% of Tesco’s online customers are now doing, revealed the company. Tesco also announced that it will be removing single-use wine carriers and lowering the price of its ‘Carry me bottle bag’ from £1 to 40p.

Environment Minister Thérèse 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 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.”

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.

Tesco UK & Republic of Ireland CEO Matt Davies 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.”

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As Bunnings opens its largest Warehouse store to date (110,000sq ft) this week but also trials small format like a number of retailers, we ask: is there still a place for 'big box' retail stores in the UK?


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