Sainsbury's announces plans to cut bag useCustomers will get points for re-using bags

17 April 2008

Sainsbury's does not believe that charging for...bags is the only answer

Justin KingSainsbury's chief executive

Sainsbury's announced plans today to halve the number of disposable plastic bags used by customers over the next year.

The supermarket chain said it would reward customers who reused bags with store points.

It also pledged that its disposable bags will be made of 50% recycled content by June this year, up from the current 33% and 10% chalk.

Limiting plastic bags

The company is the latest high-profile retailer to limit the use of plastic bags.

The move follows a Budget announcement by Chancellor Alistair Darling outlining plans to introduce charges on plastic bags if retailers do not take steps to reduce their use.

Sainsbury's said it would carry out trials to change customers' behaviour, encouraging them to limit and reuse bags and recycle them once they were too old.

Marks & Spencer

In February Marks & Spencer announced it was to charge food customers 5p for every plastic carrier bag they use, with the money raised from the levy spent on improving parks and play areas across the country.

Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King said: 'Sainsbury's does not believe that charging for single-use bags is the only answer or that it is the most likely way to achieve lasting benefit for the environment.

'Forcing customers to make a decision they don't fully understand is not the best way to achieve sustained behavioural change. This requires a series of actions to help customers to reduce, reuse and recycle.

'Starting this weekend we will test a number of new initiatives to find out what engages and helps people to reduce the number of bags they use.

'Since last April we believe we've given away more free bags for life than any other retailer. We now need to help customers remember to re-use them to really make a difference on this issue and achieve a 50% reduction in disposable bag use.'

Customer view

A survey of Sainsbury's customers found 73% wanted a reward for reusing their shopping bags. The chain is to give one store point for any plastic bag reused at the checkouts from June.

Staff will also hand out free fridge magnets and car stickers on Saturday reminding customers to bring their old shopping bags with them after many said they simply forget.

Other organisations to limit their use of plastic bags include The Body Shop, Help the Aged second-hand shops and the Government's marketing arm, the Central Office of Information.

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