Supermarkets Aim To Cut Plastic Bag Use By 50 Per Cent

The leaders of Britain’s major supermarket chains have pledged to reduce the number of plastic bags that are handed out to shoppers in Scotland by half before next spring.
Over one billion plastic bags (equal to 8,000 tonnes) were distributed to supermarket customers in Scotland last year, but retailers are now under huge pressure from the government to cut waste and become ‘greener’.
The ambitious target was set and agreed upon by the senior managers of Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, Somerfield, Co-op and Waitrose at Scotland’s first ‘supermarket summit’, held in Edinburgh yesterday.
Although the new target is not legally binding, Scottish ministers have previously warned that they may be forced to introduce legislation if targets from voluntary agreements to “drastically” cut plastic bag usage are not met.
Supermarkets and other shops will be expected to adopt individual initiatives such as reducing the number of single use bags handed out, charging for bags and setting up incentive schemes in order to meet the targets.
Some retailers, such as M&S already charge customers 5p for bags, while others, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s, give customers points on their loyalty cards in return for re-using bags .
Scotland’s environment secretary Richard Lochhead, said: “This is a highly ambitious target which will reduce the amount of bags which go to landfill by 4,000 tonnes each year and help tackle a major blight on Scotland’s landscape.”
Duncan McLaren, chief executive of environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the move was a “good step in the right direction” but warned that it will be difficult to achieve and that “there is much more that the industry needs to work on”.
The supermarket gathering was led by First Minister Alex Salmond with an aim to improving the economy for producers and helping households cope with soaring fuel and food costs.

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