Marks & Spencer is to start charging customers at 14 of the company's stores in Northern Ireland 5p for every carrier bag they use in a trial starting this summer as part of a £200m scheme to encourage shoppers to go green. The scheme will take place in 2 stages
1 ) From June 4, it will offer customers the sturdy, reusable 'bags for life' free of charge with a promise to replace them once they wear out.
2) From July 1, it will introduce the 5p charge on the lighweght, standard plastic bags currently provided without charge.
If successful, (Now how do we measure that ?) the scheme could be rolled out across the UK later in the year.
To burnish their totally erstaz "organic / green" image they have already banned some artificial additives, GM ingredients and battery eggs in all its shops. They also changed their packaging for Lord Patel's favourite treat "Summer fruit compote" from bio-degradeable cardboard to super, non bio degradeable plastic carton, aluminium foil top and PVC (half Life 1 Mn years) top for fridge storage.
An astonishing 13 BILLION carrier bags each are handed out each year in the UK by major supermarkets - most of which end up in landfill sites where they can take up to 500 years to break down.
The Irish Government introduced a plastic bag tax in March 2002, which saw store issued plastic bag use fall by 90% and raised 60m euros (£ 41m) for eco-charities. They also saw a hefty rise in plastic waste sacks... Tesco have to particiate through their Wellworthy stores but for some reason say it would be "impractical" in the UK mainland.
Environment ministers have repeatedly rejected moves to introduce similar measures in the UK for fear of upsetting voters.
Last month, Sainsbury's caused a publicity raising frenzy in their stores when their Chinese made £5 cotton and rope bag by the alleged designer Anya Hindmarch bearing the slogan 'I'm Not a Plastic Bag' was released as an incentive for shoppers to switch away from carrier bags - it was supplied in a plastic bag.
IKEA has introduced a 10p charge for its bio-degradable plastic bags. On May 14th Waitrose has removed all free bags from all checkouts in 14 outlets during a 2 trial having offered In the two weeks before the trial begins, Waitrose provide Bags for Life free of charge for their transaction, to notify customers of the forthcoming initiative.. Not to be outdone in the "greener than thee" publicity stakes, Tesco has also promised to cut its use of plastic bags by a quarter over the next two years.
In 1997, Waitrose were the first retailer to introduce reusable, long-life carrier bags. Waitrose Bags for Life are initially bought for ten pence and then replaced free of charge when worn out. The returned bags are recycled and made into Plaswood furniture for branches and local good causes.
In November 2004 Waitrose introduced a 100 per cent biodegradable Jute based wine carrier bag. The Jute bag can be used for wine or for general shopping. Money from the sale of each bag is donated to the Spiti project in India, (uo to £8,000 so far) going towards such projects as installing water pumps and maintaining hospitals.
Over 3000 UK businesses are members of the Valpak compliance scheme, their website is full of guff and links to how help you become a born again re-cycling bore (www.recyclemore.co.uk).
- On average every person in the UK throws away their own body weight in rubbish every seven weeks (source: WasteWatch).
- Packaging accounts for 18 per cent of household waste which represents about 3 per cent by weight and volume of landfill waste (source: Defra).
- Almost 60 per cent of packaging was recycled in 2005 (source: Defra).
- Packaging is a significant part of the municipal (domestic) solid waste that must be reduced.