UK supermarket Morrisons will offer paper carrier bags to all its customers in its latest move against plastic.
It says the move is part of its “continuing drive to remove unnecessary plastic from its stores”.
It comes after an eight-week trial in selected Morrisons stores, during which the paper bags proved popular with customers.
Stores in Wales will be the first to offer paper carrier bags this week. Morrisons’ stores in England and Scotland will follow suit in May.
Taking the weight
According to Morrisons, the bags are made in Wales from sustainably managed forests. They’re strong enough to take 16kg of weight, says the supermarket, and will cost 20p (37c) – the same price as Morrisons’ standard plastic carrier bag.
Morrisons says customers can reuse the bags and ultimately recycle them.
Group Customer and Marketing Director Andy Atkinson said: “We’re taking another meaningful step that will remove an estimated 1,300 tonnes of plastic out of the environment each year.
“Our customers have told us that reducing plastic is their number-one environmental concern. So introducing the paper bag across the nation will provide another way of reducing the plastic in their lives.”
This latest move is part of Morrisons’ broader initiative to reduce its carbon footprint. Other measures include banning single-use carrier bags and switching from plastic to paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables.
Morrisons claims the bag’s carbon footprint is “equivalent to the standard plastic carrier bag”.
But some supermarket chains have expressed scepticism, questioning paper’s eco-friendly credentials.
Waitrose, for example, has rejected introducing paper bags, claiming they “can take three times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic one”.
Others point out that paper decomposes relatively quickly, whereas plastic can plague the environment and wildlife for hundreds of years.
Whatever the complexities of the debate, plastic does seem to be in retreat. The latest data show that plastic-bag sales across the UK’s “big seven” supermarkets have fallen by 85 per cent since the introduction of a mandatory 5p (9c) charge in October 2015.