British supermarkets pledge to cut carrier bags

Environment Minister Jane Kennedy and Britain’s leading supermarkets have agreed to a 50 percent cut in the number of carrier bags given out to shoppers by spring 2009.

The Government agreement with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) covers seven of Britain’s major supermarket chains. The agreement to reduce the volume of carrier bags provided to customers by 50 percent against 2006 levels, covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The number of bags saved by spring next year through this agreement would fill 60 Olympic-sized swimming pools, or fill the Royal Albert Hall one and a half times.

The pledge is also a step in the right direction to reach a 70 percent reduction in the longer term.

Liz Goodwin, CEO of Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), said, “The word from stores is that many more of us are re-using our bags. That is something we are working to encourage and WRAP will be playing its full part in this initiative.

This agreement should act as a spur to all of us to remember to take our bags with us when shopping. Retailers and governments are now clearly working together to help all of us reduce the number of bags we use. The aim, which is at the core of WRAP’s work, is a world which uses resources more efficiently.”

Progress on the agreement will be monitored by WRAP and reviewed in 2010.