28/02/2008

M&S Carrier Bag Charge Follows NI Trial

Following a trial period at Marks & Spencer stores in Northern Ireland and others in southwest England, High Street retailer Marks and Spencer has announced plans to charge customers 5p for each plastic bag they use.

Customers at the company's stores will be given free long-lasting bags from the beginning of April, before the new charge is introduced on May 6.

The scheme, which will only apply to stores in the UK, will see all the funds raised going to the Groundwork Trust.

The move follows Northern Ireland's pioneering role in the initial trial in 50 stores which saw the demand for plastic carrier bags drop by more than 70%

M&S Chief Executive Sir Stuart Rose said: "We want to make it easy for our customers to do their bit to help the environment and our trials have shown is that they want to take action.

"Our customers will be raising valuable funds to go to our partner charity, Groundwork, to invest in much-needed green spaces in our neighbourhoods."

Sir Stuart said that if M&S customers across the UK reduced the number of plastic bags they used by 70%, it would reduce the number of bags used each year by 280 million.

Every year, British retailers give out 13 billion plastic bags free to customers - an average of 216 per person - and they take 1,000 years to decay.

Meanwhile, rival supermarket Tesco has revealed that it used 3bn plastic bags last year. While it does not charge for them, it instead offers bonuses such as extra clubcard points if they re-use bags.

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said the supermarket had a policy of encouraging its customers to "reduce, reuse and recycle".

She also said that since April 2007 there had been a 10% reduction in the number of free plastic bags given out, which is the equivalent of 85m bags.

A spokesman for Asda said it was on target to reduce the environmental impact of its carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008. As part of this aim, the supermarket has implemented several initiatives in all of its stores.

(KMcA)(BMcC)








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