The charity is phasing out plastic carrier bags in its shops ahead of a complete ban on June 2 during National Recycling Week.

It follows a similar announcement from Marks and Spencer, which said last month it will start charging for its carrier bags from May.

Branches will hand out a variety of reused bags and cardboard boxes in the weeks leading up to the ban to minimise the inconvenience for customers, and bosses are looking at alternatives to use from June.

The move is the first in a series of events that Help the Aged is planning to highlight their role as recycling centres.

The shops already recycle almost 14m second-hand goods each year by reselling them to new owners and passing on unsold clothes to third world countries.

Terry Mutton, head of field and operations, said: “Help the Aged shops are among the best recyclers on the high street.

“Our 365 shops have provided customers with 2m carrier bags each year and almost all of these will end up in landfill sites, so phasing them out is a big step in protecting the environment.”

The charity is also considering using recyclable materials for the plastic collection bags which are regularly delivered to homes across the country to collect unwanted goods to sell in stores.

The announcement was followed by publication of a new Help the Aged report asking Government to link the “green and grey” agendas.

Towards Common Ground: climate change and an ageing population argues that many policies which could be used to tackle climate change, such as better public transport to cut car use, could also benefit older people.

Anna Pearson, policy manager for Help the Aged, said: “Climate change and growing older are now two certainties facing all of us.

“For Government, these twin agendas pose both a threat, but also a very real opportunity.”

Kate Martin

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