Third of shoppers still use free plastic bagsMixed opinions for supermarket plastic bag charges

17 September 2010

shopping at the supermarket

Plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down

New research has revealed the public has decidedly mixed views on supermarkets charging for plastic bags.

While a third agree with the idea, almost a quarter believe supermarkets use it as a ploy to make more money, says a poll of more than 2,000 adults by YouGov. More than one-third (35%) said they still use free plastic bags provided by grocery shops.

A recent Which? trial where we ordered one online grocery shop from Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose found that most had marginally reduced the number of plastic bags the order was delivered in, compared to the year before. This is despite Tesco offering delivery in reusable crates which reward shoppers with more Clubcard points if they choose this option. 

Take a look at our review of online supermarkets to find out the top pick by Which? members for online grocery shopping.

Marks and Spencer 5p plastic bag charge

Marks and Spencer charges 5p for a plastic bag, while Tesco and Sainsbury’s offer extra points on their loyalty schemes for reusing bags.

Almost one-third of those polled by YouGov said financial rewards would encourage them to use bags for life or reuse plastic bags. You can find out how to make money by going green with some handy tips from Which?.

But the survey found more than four in 10 shoppers often use a bag for life, and almost one third reuse plastic bags. This follows recent figures from WRAP (Waste and Resource Action Programme) which showed the number of single-use plastic bags handed out to shoppers has fallen by 43% (4.6 billion fewer bags) in the year to May 2010, since figures were first recorded in 2006.