Co-Op, the popular store across the UK, has announced that they will remove bags for life from their stores permanently.
This decision follows a statement from the corporation, as well as studies revealing that the so-called bags for life tend to only be used once, making them as much of a problem as the single-use bags they previously replaced.
“Plastic pollution is a massive issue for retailers.” spoke Jo Whitfield, the current Chief Executive for Co-Op Foods. “Many shoppers are regularly buying so called “bags for life” to use just once and its leading to a major hike in the amount of plastic being produced,”
Another reason for this decision is due to the new changes to the plastic bag levy that will take effect next month. The levy will force retailers of all shapes and sizes, including corner shops, to charge customers 10p for a shopping bag, double that of its previous price of 5p.
While the plastic bag levies were successful in eliminating many single-use shopping bags from circulation, many environmental groups and campaigners are worried about the effect of bags for life, as they use more plastic and tend to only be used once. Studies have shown that 1.5 billion plastic bags for life have been sold every year at the Co-Op, which is feared to have made the plastic problem worse, rather than better.
The Co-Op group isn’t the only retailer that has taken action in light of the levy. Following a very successful trial last year, Morrisons removed plastic bags from their stores completely, replacing them with paper bags, as well as the more durable tote bags for a higher price.
Alongside this, Whitfield has requested that the government makes it mandatory for retailers to report on the sales of all their reusable bags rather than just single-use carriers. Not only that, but she also wants the price of bags to be raised to 50p, in order to encourage people to reuse them more.
As Co-Op is the only large retailer sharing their data, Whitfield stated that “a fuller picture would lead to better understanding of plastic bag levies and their true effect on shopping behaviours when customers are making decisions at the tills”.
Once the current stocks are exhausted, Co-Op will stop selling bags for life permanently. Instead, customers can choose to buy either a 10p compostable bag that can be used as a bin liner, or spend a bit more money for a more durable woven bag.