Retailers have agreed to cut the use of plastic bags as part of the battle against global warming, according to the Department of the Environment. The agreement involving top retailers such as Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Asda, should lead to a 25% cut in the environmental impact of the bags by the end of next year. “This is an ambitious, but very practical agreement and we are pleased that the retailers have agreed to work with us and UK consumers in such a positive way,” Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said.
Under the agreement, retailers will encourage consumers to use fewer bags and re-use those that they already have. Retailers will also switch over to recyclable carrier bags where they can. Details of the scheme were still to be worked out. If all goes as hoped, the move should reduce emissions of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by up to 58,500 tonnes a year, or the equivalent to taking 18,000 cars off the road, the department said. “It will require the government’s support in encouraging customers to re-use, recycle and take an improved approach to household waste management,” said British Retail Consortium environment policy director Nigel Smith.