New figures show efforts by retailers and consumers delivering results.
New figures released today by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) show the UK’s leading high street and grocery retailers have exceeded a voluntary target to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008.
Since 2006, retailers have delivered a 40% reduction in the environmental impact of carrier bags, as measured by the reduction in the amount of virgin plastic used. Retailers have achieved this by reducing the number of carrier bags issued by 26%, increasing recycled content used and reducing carrier bag weight.
The target to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags was part of an agreement with UK Governments and industry in February 2007 which has been met in full by a reduction in bag numbers alone.
This achievement also reflects the active engagement of consumers, who have helped to make it happen.
Dr Liz Goodwin, WRAP CEO said:
“Consumers deserve congratulations for these results as they clearly show we are moving away from using bags once to re-using bags often. They are also a credit to retailers who have worked hard to find innovative ways of helping us re-use our bags.”
Over the past two years, WRAP has been collecting data and monitoring initiatives by retailers that help reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags including encouraging re-use through reward schemes, promoting bags for life and charging for bags.
The data shows that initiatives by retailers to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags have resulted in a 23,000 tonne reduction in the weight of carrier bags issued. The total number of bags in circulation has reduced from 13.4 billion in 2006 to 9.9 billion in 2008, equivalent to a 26% reduction.
Jane Milne from the BRC said:
“Congratulations to all our customers and check-out colleagues who have done so much to achieve this result. With this first target met and exceeded we are now working to halve the number of bags taken by May this year. We need every customer to help us by remembering their bags for life on planned shopping trips and, where they do need to take an ordinary carrier bag, re-using it on five or six shopping trips before returning it for recycling. Together we can do it!”
The agreement was between 21 of the leading high street and grocer retailers and Defra, the then Scottish Executive, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Office. The agreement was actively supported by the Packaging and Film Association (PAFA) via the Carrier Bag Consortium.
WRAP’s role in the agreement is to monitor the progress of the agreement through data collection and analysis. The members of the agreement issue their respective data to WRAP voluntarily. WRAP’s remit from the signatories is to issue the results for carrier bag reduction targets across the industry as a whole and not to release individual retailer data.
The target was a 25% reduction in the environmental impact of carrier bags. This is being measured by looking at a reduction in the number of carrier bags issued and the amount of virgin plastic which provides a simple way to measure environmental impact.
Participating retailers are as follows:
- Asda Wal*Mart
- Co-operative Group
- DSG International plc (Currys and PC World)
- E H Booths & Co Ltd
- Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase)
- John Lewis Partnership (John Lewis and Waitrose)
- Marks & Spencer
- Next Group plc
- Nisa Todays
- Primark Stores Ltd
- Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
- Somerfield Group
- Spar (UK) Ltd
- Travis Perkins (Wickes)
- Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc
A further agreement between the Scottish Government and supermarkets has been made. Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government, and the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment have also made an agreement with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and its supermarket members. Both agreements aim to reduce the number of single use carrier bags issued to consumers by 50% by the end of May 2009. WRAP has agreed to monitor progress against these targets. The participating supermarkets are Asda Wal*Mart, Co-operative Group, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, Somerfield Group and Tesco.
- WRAP works in partnership to encourage and enable businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and recycle more things more often. This helps to minimise landfill, reduce carbon emissions and improve our environment.
- Established as an independent company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
- More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk