Would you pay 20p for a paper bag? Supermarket Morrisons trials US-style carriers and ups the cost of bags for life to 15p in its battle against plastic… but not all shoppers are convinced
- Morrisons says customers feel that reducing plastic is top environment concern
- 20p paper bags can be reused and recycled and are being tested for eight weeks
- US-style paper grocery bags are same capacity to standard plastic carrier bags
- To further reduce plastic use, store is increasing price of plastic carriers to 15p
Morrisons is hiking the price of long-life plastic bags to 15p and introducing a paper version costing 20p as part of a trial.
The move in eight stores is in response to customers who have told the supermarket that reducing plastic is their number one environment concern.
The 20p paper bags, which can be reused and ultimately recycled, are being tested for eight weeks to give shoppers a packing alternative.
The new tear-resistant paper bags will cost 20p while their plastic equivalents will be 15p
The paper bags have handles and are the same capacity to standard plastic carrier bags
Morrisons said the stores participating in the trial are Camden, Skipton, Wood Green, Hunslet, Yeadon, Erskine, Gibraltar and Abergavenny
The new US-style paper grocery bags have handles and are the same capacity to standard plastic carrier bags.
To further reduce plastic use, Morrisons is increasing the price of standard plastic carrier bags from 10p to 15p.
The bags are sourced from responsibly managed forests, the supermarket said. Priced at 20p each the paper grocery bags can be reused and ultimately recycled.
Reaction to the new paper bags was mixed on social media, with one Twitter user saying: ‘Why should the consumer pay for bags at all?
‘It’s the companies like Morrisons, Tesco etc. who have, until recent years, offered us no alternative to plastic bags.
How the tide is turning on plastic waste in UK
The 5p plastic bag levy was introduced in England from October 5, 2015 and all large retailers have been required to introduce the charge. Similar schemes run in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has set up a consultation exercise that ends next month on raising the fee to 10p and including smaller retailers, which could come into effect from January 2020.
Retailers are expected to donate any proceeds from the 5p charge to good causes. Figures from the Government at the end of 2018 showed that nearly two billion 5p plastic bags were sold in the last financial year.
This is a stark reduction from 2014, when 7.6 billion carrier bags – the equivalent of 140 per person – were handed out solely by England’s seven largest supermarkets.
Figures show the same seven retailers – Asda, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury, Tesco, The Co-operative Group, Waitrose and Morrisons – sold 1.04 billion bags in 2017/18, nearly 60 per cent of the 1.75 billion in England.
‘They have caused the damage to environment whilst profiting. I’m sure 40p off every shop wouldn’t hurt them much.’
Another added: ‘I like how you are trying to reduce plastic but 20p for fragile paper bags is a bit much. Why not offer fabric ones that won’t break so easy?
‘Also, how about checking how much unnecessary plastic you use with your produce, ie chicken Kievs… wrapped in plastic.’
But one tweeted: ‘At last, common sense prevails. Morrisons are introducing US-style paper carrier bags in their stores – well done to them.
‘We use them all the time when we’re in Florida, they’re bigger, stronger, fold flat, free of charge and make for a much happier environment.’
As part of the trial, Morrisons is also increasing the price of standard plastic carrier bags from 10p to 15p to further reduce plastic use.
This follows Morrisons’ removal of the 5p carrier bags early in 2018 which led to 25 per cent reduction in overall bag sales.
This 15p standard plastic carrier bag is produced in the UK and is made from recycled material reclaimed from Morrisons stores.
Andy Atkinson, of Morrisons, said: ‘When we listen to customers they want us to help them reduce the amount of plastic they have in their lives.
‘These new paper bags do exactly the same job as standard plastic carrier bags.
‘They are tough, reusable and can help keep a large amount of plastic out of the environment.’
Morrisons said the stores participating in the trial are Camden, Skipton, Wood Green, Hunslet, Yeadon, Erskine, Gibraltar and Abergavenny.