Reducing single-use carrier bags is a key target for the retailer – by the end of 2013, its goal is to reduce the number of bags given out to customers by 75% compared with a 2006 baseline.

However, its latest sustainability report has revealed that during 2012, the number of carrier bags issued rose by 2% compared to 2011.

The company has put this down to a national trend which shows increasing bag use among shoppers, particularly in England. According to UK-wide research, there was a 5.4% rise in bag use in 2011 compared to 2010.

“We are behind schedule to reach our single-use carrier bag reduction target but work is ongoing to review our reusable bag range to support further reductions,” the retailer stated.

It notes that in Wales, where a national bag levy is in place, there have been significant reductions in use. Scotland is hoping to achieve similar results – Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead announced today that shoppers will have to pay 5p for carrier bags from next October.

The company further pointed out that since 2006, it has reduced the number of carrier bags issued by 63%, resulting in a saving of more than one billion bags annually since 2009.

Other report findings showed that in 2012, it sent nearly 42,000 tonnes of waste to landfill, around 37% of its total waste arisings. Despite this, the company is confident that it is on track to divert the majority of its waste from landfill by 2013.

It also intends to extend its segregation and backhauling operations to all food stores next year, following an initiative that was implemented at the start of 2012. Currently 900 stores are involved in the project.

Maxine Perella

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