Bags of plastic – research finds that plastic waste rises as 1.5bn ‘bags for life’ are sold

The war on plastic is an ongoing battle. Many supermarkets ditched the disposable single –use plastic bag, and instead replaced them with the sturdier, reusable ‘bag for life’, that costs 10 pence. Whilst these were introduced with the intention of reducing the nation’s single-use plastic consumption, a recent study by Greenpeace has found otherwise. In their second annual study of the plastic usage of UK supermarkets, Greenpeace and The Environmental Investigation Agency have found that sales of bags for life amounted to 1.5bn last year as the amount of plastic used by supermarkets increased to 900,000 tonnes.

Campaigners are calling for higher charges for the bags or even a complete ban as the research showed households bought an average of 54 bags a year. In 2016, there was a whopping 2bn single-use bags sold. Research has shown that plastic bags for life must be used four times to be better for the environment. This rise in sales of bags for life to the point where they almost match the previous level of sales for single-use plastic bags shows that they are being used as a disposable option by many customers.

The Greenpeace and EIA research says that bag for life sales were cut by 90% in the Republic of Ireland by setting higher prices of 70 cents. The report recommends a charge of 70p or “ideally” a government ban. The research also found that overall supermarket plastic use has risen to more than 900,000 tonnes in 2018, despite pledges by retailers to cut down on packaging. The previous year, they used 886,000 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging.[1]

[1] BBC

It appears that the issue with single-use plastic bags has merely been displaced onto the slightly more expensive ‘reusable’ alternative. Many consumers will still buy a bag for life yet use it once and then throwing it away, meaning that we are still faced with the same issue. The ‘bags for life’ were brought in by supermarkets when the government introduced the 5p single-use plastic bag charge. They are merely just thicker plastic, which is even worse for the planet.

At Bags of EthicsTM we focus on making bas that are reusable, not disposable. All of our totes contain no plastic, are made form 100% natural and ethically and sustainably sourced cotton, can be reused over 5,000 times and are fully biodegradable. We believe that in order to save the planet from drowning in plastic, we must ditch the plastic bags altogether, and opt for bags made from natural materials which can be reused over and over again in order to reduce waste.

We want to hear your views, and find out what you think needs to be done to help tackle this issue. Send us an Instagram DM and help us raise awareness of the dangers of supermarket plastic at @bagsofethics.

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