Lidl pledges to remove single-use plastic carrier bags

German discount supermarket chain Lidl UK has today (28 September) pledged to remove single-use plastic carrier bags from sale across all stores in England, Scotland and Wales.

The initiative, starting from 1st July 2017, will aim to save an estimated 63 million plastic bags per year – the equivalent of 760 tonnes of plastic. The retailer’s pledge forms part of an overarching objective to significantly reduce levels of plastic carrier bag wastage across the UK and encourage a change in customer attitudes.

Lidl UK commercial director Ryan McDonnell said: “Our pledge to stop selling single-use carrier bags is all about promoting a more environmentally friendly alternative. It will directly encourage shoppers to think about sustainability, and the role they can play in reducing unnecessary plastic waste.

The number of plastic shopping bags handed out by retailers in England has dropped from seven billion to just over half a billion within six months, following the introduction of the 5p carrier bag charge last October. Over the next 10 years, the Government hopes to raise more than £730m from the levy, which has already seen carrier bag usage drop by as much as 80%.

“The levy introduced by the Government last year was an important start, and as a responsible retailer, we see it as our role to invest in a sustainable future and to bring our customers on that journey with us,” McDonnell added.

The announcement follows on from Lidl’s pledge to donate a minimum of £1m raised from its 5p plastic bag charge to charity, in a bid to educate children on litter prevention.

Plastic surgery

The carrier bag charge represents something of a CSR success story, with retailers now using the profits gained from the charge to boost a number of in social development projects.

closer look at the data reveals a big difference in the way the carrier bag charge is now being dealt with by the seven major retailers (Tesco, Sainsbury’s Asda, Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose and Co-op). Some are generating higher amounts of money for charity, while others are selling fewer ‘single-use’ bags to reduce their overall environmental impact.

Asda, for example, announced recently that it would be passing its £1m carrier bag profits onto Scottish social enterprises. Marks & Spencer is also donating half of the proceeds from the bag charge to local charities, and the other half to international charities such as Macmillan Cancer Research and the Marine Conservation Society.

George Ogleby

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