Britain

Huge rise in ‘bag for life’ sales prompts call for new 70p price

Sales of plastic "bags for life" rose 26% last year to 1.5 billion – prompting a call for the standard price to be raised from 10p to 70p.

Greenpeace and Environment Investigation Agency research shows the bags are effectively "bags for a week", with UK households buying 54 a year in what was described as a "huge rise".

Researchers say that bag for life sales were cut by 90% in the Republic of Ireland by setting higher prices of 70 cents – and "ideally" they want the same in the UK.

Image: Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency say more plastic is going on shelves than ever before

It comes as their research also showed total plastic packaging used by the UK's 10 biggest supermarkets increased from 886,000 tonnes in 2017 to 903,000 in 2018.

It was mainly driven by sales of branded products, rather than supermarket own-brands, and the fact they are selling more products overall.

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Only Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's were able to achieve "marginal" reductions, said the report by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The other seven big supermarkets saw their plastic footprint increase.

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The businesses were also ranked on their commitment to reduce single-use plastic, cut out non-recyclable packaging, engage with supply chains and transparent reporting.

Waitrose came first, followed by Morrisons and Sainsbury's.

Lidl, Asda and Aldi were the three worst performers.

The produce will be sold without any plastic packaging
Image: Campaigners want products sold without packaging and more 'refill stations'

The report said Waitrose scored highly because it had reduced packaging and was also planning to scale up trials of refill stations for products like coffee and pasta, as well as wine and detergent.

Greenpeace and the EIA want others to take a similar approach by offering products without packaging, or by switching to refillable or reusable alternatives.

The groups say that "false solutions", such as making plastic thinner or swapping plastic packaging for cardboard, are "unacceptable".

Fiona Nicholls, from Greenpeace UK, said: "We hear piecemeal supermarket announcements on plastic every other week, but in reality they are putting more plastic on the shelves than ever.

"Supermarkets need to buck up and think bigger. They must change their stores to offer loose food dispensers, reusable packaging, and move away from throwaway packaging altogether."

EIA ocean campaigner Juliet Phillips said: "It's shocking to see that despite unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis, the amount of single-use plastic used by the UK's biggest supermarkets has actually increased in the past year.

"Our survey shows that grocery retailers need to tighten up targets to drive real reductions in single-use packaging and items.

"We need to address our throwaway culture at root through sysRead More – Source