Tesco UK to abandon 5p plastic bags

These lightweight government-levied plastic bags are to be phased out by Tesco in favour of larger, thicker bags
These lightweight government-levied plastic bags are to be phased out by Tesco in favour of larger, thicker bags

Tesco in the UK has announced that it will stop selling standard white plastic shopping bags, in favour of larger and sturdier reusable bags-for-life. The cost of the bags will double, from 5p to 10p.



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9 August 2017 | 0

Tesco in the UK has announced plans to phase out its 5p plastic bags, to be replaced by the larger, sturdier and reusable “bag for life”, which will cost a slightly higher 10p.

The company said that despite the introduction of the 5p bag tax by the UK government in 2015 which saw sales of plastic bags plummet, it still sells upwards of 700m bags per year. To combat this, the supermarket giant will eliminate the standard plastic bags completely and encourage shoppers to reuse the stronger, thicker bags.

They are made from recycled plastic, and the company says it will replace bags if they become damaged, and that proceeds from sales will go towards funding local community projects and other good causes.

Matt Davies, chief executive of Tesco UK, said the move is intended to help customers use fewers bags. “The number of bags being bought by our customers has already reduced dramatically,” Davies said. “We also aim to ensure that those sold in our stores continue to fund thousands of community projects across the country.”

The move has caused something of a stir in Ireland, given the discrepancy between the cost of Tesco bags-for-life here (70c, less the 22c government levy) and in the UK (10p, or approx. 63p). On that topic, a spokesperson for Tesco Ireland said that the 70c cost of a bag for life in Irish Tesco stores is “in line with the Irish market.

“In line with most other retailers, we have phased out our single use 22c bags,” Tesco said. “The popularity of these bags has been in decline in recent years with many customers opting to re-use bags instead. Tesco has a significant community donation programme in Ireland, through the Tesco Community Fund we donate almost €1m per year to local community groups.

“We have also donated nearly 4m meals through our partnership with foodcloud,” the statement added.


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