From 21 May John Lewis shops in Cheltenham, Kingston and Leeds will trial removing single use plastic carrier bags. Customers will be asked to bring their own bags, or buy a reusable bag made from 100% recyclable material. The reusable bags will cost 50p for a medium sized bag and 75p for a large bag. John Lewis’s shop in Oxford previously trialled removing plastic carrier bags. The trial was so successful that plastic carrier bags were not reintroduced.
Commenting on the trial Marija Rompani, partner and director of ethics and sustainability for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “We’re all so aware now that we need to make radical changes to reduce our impact on the planet. It has become the norm to take our own bags when we go food shopping but we have a different mindset when shopping for clothes, beauty and home products.
“We expect our customers will be supportive of this change and will be listening to their feedback.”
ACS has welcomed the long-awaited extension of plastic bag charging to all businesses from 21 May, which will provide consistency for consumers and further opportunity for retailers to raise money for good causes.
From 21 May in England, the minimum charge for plastic bags will increase from 5p to 10p per bag, and will be applicable to all businesses regardless of size. The plastic bag charge is already applicable to all businesses in Scotland and Wales.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “The introduction of the 5p charge has been a phenomenal success, driving down sales of harmful plastic bags in supermarkets by a remarkable 95%. We know we must go further to protect our natural environment and oceans, which is why we are now extending this charge to all businesses. Over the next couple of weeks I urge all retailers of all sizes to make sure they are ready for the changes, as we work together to build back greener and strengthen our world-leading action to combat the scourge of plastic waste.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We strongly welcome the inclusion of local shops and other small businesses into the successful plastic bag charging scheme, which not only helps the environment, but is also a great way for retailers to raise money for local and national charities.”
New figures from DEFRA show that as a result of the carrier bag charge, the average person in England now buys just four single-use carrier bags a year from the main supermarkets, compared with 140 in 2014. By extending the charge to all retailers, the Government expects that the use of single-use carrier bags will decrease by 70-80% in small and medium-sized businesses.
Around half of the independent retailers in the convenience sector already charge for plastic bags, with many removing plastic bags from sale altogether.
Online guidance from the Government on retailers’ responsibility around the plastic bag charge is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/carrier-bag-charges-retailers-responsibilities
ACS has a new poster available for retailers to communicate the 10p charge, which can be downloaded here.