UK Supermarket Chain will Exchange Plastic Bags ‘For Life’

Morrison’s plastic to paper will be rolled out in Wales.

Sep 2, 2020

(Edinburghcitymom / Shutterstock.com)

Ditching plastic bags for something reusable or recyclable is not new and it’s not just a trend. It’s here to stay and one UK supermarket chain is making it even easier to accomplish.

Morrison’s now offers strong paper bags instead of plastic ones in eight stores according to a company press release. A trial has been running since January 2020. Now it will be rolled out in Welsh stores and in May 2021 to English and Scottish groceries too.

The paper grocery bags are made in Wales from paper that has been sustainably sourced and can carry up to 16 kg. The bags can be reused and recycled when they wear out. And they will only cost the same price as the standard plastic bag.

Supermarkets began charging for plastic bags in 2015 in the UK in an effort to curb plastic waste according to the BBC. In 2014, 7.6 billion bags were given out in England (around 140 per person) according to the governments Department for Environmental Food & Rural affairs. Most of these bags ended up in landfills or made their way into the ocean.

Since the law was enacted, the number of plastic bags distributed has dropped by 80 percent. Now Morrison wants to reduce it even more.

“We are taking another meaningful step that will remove an estimated 1,300 [British tons] of plastic out of the environment each year,” Andy Atkinson, the Morrisons group's customer and marketing director said in the press release.

Morrison’s will be discontinuing the sale of plastic bags, as well as allowing customers to bring their own containers to use in the meat and fish counters. All loose fruits and vegetables will now be sold in paper instead of plastic bags.

But will customers make the switch? “We believe customers are ready to stop using plastic carrier bags as they want to reduce the amount of plastic they have in their lives and keep it out of the environment,” Morrisons' chief executive, David Potts told BBC.

“We know that many are taking reusable bags back to [the] store and, if they forget these, we have paper bags that are tough, convenient and a reusable alternative,” he said.

Other UK supermarket chains supported the move. Waitrose told BBC that they will begin their own trial to remove plastic bags later this year and Tesco and Sainsbury said they have taken steps to remove plastic from their stores and deliveries.

Across the pond, other supermarket chains are also working to reduce or remove plastic. Trader Joes stopped using plastic bags in 2019 and swapped biodegradable and compostable single-use items for plastics and Styrofoam.

All of these initiatives will go a long way to reduce plastic use and plastic waste but much more is needed. You can do your part by using reusable grocery bags, as well as biodegradable cutlery and straws. Everyone has to do their part to save the planet.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.