Morrisons is planning on dropping its plastic ‘bags for life’, while running a trial for paper alternatives in its stores, to combat plastic waste.
On Monday 17 August the supermarket started the bag trial across eight shops in the UK, with customers being offered sturdy paper bags as an alternative when they pass through checkout.
If the trial proves successful, these durable paper bags will be introduced across all 494 of its branches.
What’s the reason behind this move?
Single-use 5p carrier bags were removed from most major supermarkets in 2018, but customers are still buying plastic ‘bags for life’, which are stronger and thicker.
And although these bags are created to last a long time, recent studies have suggested that they’re typically being used once before being binned.
Morrisons was the first supermarket to introduce paper carrier bags at checkouts in all of its stores at the start of last year – since then, they have proven popular with customers, with one in three switching from plastic to paper bags.
David Potts, chief executive of Morrisons, said the company believes customers are willing to make the switch from plastic to paper to help do their part to protect the environment.
Morrisons will also continue to offer jute, cotton, and reusable woven bags options in all stores – priced at £2.50, £1.50, and 60p respectively.
How much plastic will this save?
A spokesperson from Morrisons has told The Eco Experts that switching to paper bags would save 90 million plastic bags from being used each year – in other words, 3,510 tons of plastic per year.
This move will shrink Morrisons’s plastic waste massively – moving closer to its 50% plastic reduction target by 2025.
Plus, last year Morrisons removed and made recyclable 9,000 tonnes of plastic.
How does this compare to other supermarket giants?
A number of supermarkets have made announcements about single-use bag bans throughout 2018/19 ‒ some with bigger commitments than others.
The graph below reflects which retailers are pumping out the most plastic in the UK:
The potential ban of bags for life across Morrisons stores could drastically change these results by next year.
Some of Morrisons’s competitors are also exploring other ways to cut down on plastic waste. Tesco recently partnered up with Loop to introduce a refill system on certain products. Meanwhile, the likes of Asda and Waitrose have started trialling ‘sustainability’ branches.
There’s a lot of potential for these changes in UK supermarkets, and it certainly feels like being more eco-friendly is one of the top priorities.
It looks as though the UK is going to have to adapt to this new plastic-free lifestyle from here on out – the main hurdle we now need to overcome is whether we have enough time left.