Co-op set to ban sale of ‘bags for life’ across its 2600 stores

Co-op’s new initiative will remove 29.5 million bags for life, weighing around 870 tonnes of plastic, from sale each year

The Co-op is set to become the latest supermarket to ban ‘bags for life’ from sale across its 2600 stores. 

According to the group, bags for life use more plastic in their production than conventional single use carriers, which has in turn increased the amount of plastic in circulation.

Co-op’s new initiative will remove 29.5 million bags for life, weighing around 870 tonnes of plastic, from sale each year.

In addition, the retailer will also roll out compostable carriers to all stores to ensure that customers are able to purchase a “low-cost, low impact alternative bag with a sustainable second use”.

It comes as the government is set to increase the cost of single-use plastic bags to 10p next month – and while the retailer has welcomed this – it is also calling on officials to require “major retailers” to report on all reusable bags, as well as single-use bags, to “provide greater transparency to track the true impact of carrier bag levy”.

The move follows a similar decision by rival chain Morrisons – who also pledged to remove all plastic carrier bags from its stores over the next year. 

Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food, said: “Increased use of bags for life has led to a sharp rise in plastic use. With over 1.5 billion bags sold each year by retailers, this remains a massive issue for our industry as many shoppers are regularly buying so called bags for life to use just once and it’s leading to major hike in the amount of plastic being produced.

“To help tackle plastic pollution and the use of unnecessary plastic, we will be ceasing the sale of Bags for Life when current stocks are exhausted. We’re also ensuring all of our members and customers have access to a low price point option that’s more environmentally friendly, alongside more durable bags at a higher price point.”

She added: “We believe that it should be mandatory for all retailers to report on the sales of all of their reusable bags, not just single-use bags. Right now, Co-op is the only major retailer to report on all of the bags it sells. 

“This policy would enable a fuller understanding on the impact of the levy and its true effect on shopping behaviours when customers are making decisions at the tills.”

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