Belfast Telegraph

Tesco to stop selling 5p plastic bags in favour of 10p 'bags for life'

Tesco is to stop selling single-use plastic bags in its stores, replacing them with "bags for life" to be offered at double the price.

All of the supermarket giant's 3,500 UK stores will desist with the 5p bags from August 28, in favour of new 10p bags.

Online shoppers will still be able to buy bags for single use.

Tesco said, despite the Government clamping down on free single use bags in 2015, it still sells 700 million 5p bags a year.

Like the cheaper version, sales of the new bag will fund community projects in schools, GP practices and local football clubs across the UK, the grocery chain said.

Tesco trialled the new scheme for 10 weeks in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, where they found that bag sales reduced by 25% as customers opted to bring their own from home.

The new bags will be made of 94% recycled plastic and can be exchanged for a new one if damaged.

Matt Davies, chief executive of Tesco UK, said: "The number of bags being bought by our customers has already reduced dramatically.

"Today's move will help our customers use even fewer bags but ensure that those sold in our stores continue to fund thousands of community projects across the country chosen by customers.

"It's the right thing to do for the environment and for local communities."

Environmental charity Greenpeace said it was "great to see major retailers moving away from disposable plastic".

Louise Edge, senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: "For too long we've seen plastic as something to be used once and thrown away.

"But there is no such place as 'away' and millions of tonnes of plastic are ending up in our rivers, beaches, streets and in the sea every year, harming marine life."

The Government ordered major retailers in England to stop giving away single use bags for free in October 2015, and ordered proceeds to go to charity.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included.

Tesco's own Bags of Help scheme has provided £33 million to 6,400 local community projects since 2015 despite the store giving out 1.5 billion fewer single use bags in that time.

Lidl replaced single use bags with 5p reusable ones in July of this year, and the Sainsbury's 5p version is reusable and recyclable.

Waitrose still offers 5p single use bags and 10p bags for life.

Early figures collected in 2016 showed that customers in England took home six billion fewer bags in the first six months after the rule change.

At the end of 2016, the Marine Conservation Society said the number of bags found on British beaches had almost halved since the policy was introduced.

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