IKEA helps British shoppers kick plastic bag habit

Swedish furniture giant IKEA has chosen World Environment Day to launch a three-pronged programme to cut the number of plastic bags wasted by an estimated 20 million a year.

The company will stop giving away free plastic bags to its customers, instead charging 5p per bag until all its existing stocks have run out.

After that, or by September 1 at the latest, plastic carriers will be replaced by biodegradable equivalents and the charge for these will be 10p.

The reusable Big Blue Bags sold in store will also have their price reduced to 25p to encourage customers to use them instead.

Charlie Browne, environment manager at IKEA UK said: “The UK is addicted to plastic bags, and we are paying a high price for this in environmental terms.

“IKEA UK will reduce the cost of the famous reusable Big Blue Bag at the same time as starting to introduce a charge for carrier bags.

“This is because we want to discourage customers from one-off use of carrier bags, and help customers make an environmentally friendly choice.”

“IKEA does not claim to have all the answers, and we are actively examining other environmentally sustainable initiatives. This move may prove controversial with some customers, but we really hope people will stick with us, and realise that we are doing this to try to help the environment.

“There is no financial gain for IKEA. All the money raised by charging for plastic bags will be donated to the organisation Community Forests.”

Every year an estimated 17½ billion plastic bags are given away in the UK, equivalent to almost 300 bags per person.

Most of these bags never get a second use they get thrown straight in the rubbish bin and have a high social and financial cost attached to them.

Community Forests’ task is to deliver a comprehensive package of urban, economic and social regeneration, creating high-quality environments for millions of people by revitalizing derelict land providing new opportunities for leisure, recreation and cultural activities enhancing biodiversity and supporting education, healthy living and social and economic development.

Graham Hunt – Chairman of England’s Community Forests said: “We greatly appreciate IKEA’s contribution to our work.

“The money will be spent to revitalize and expand the network of trees, woodlands and green spaces in and around some of our major towns and cities and close to the IKEA stores. It will benefit many people in the local community as well as IKEA’s many customers and employees”

Sam Bond

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