Morrisons rolls out paper bags in produce aisles to cut plastic waste

Supermarket chain Morrisons has announced that it will stop offering single-use plastic bags in its fruit and vegetable aisles, in a bid to cut its plastic output by 150 million bags each year.

The UK’s fourth largest grocer will roll out brown paper bags across its 493 shops by the end of this summer, with the first stores receiving the biodegradable alternatives today (June 25). 

Morrisons’ fruit and vegetable director, Drew Kirk, said: “We’ve listened to customers concerns about using plastic bags for fruit and vegetables and that is why we are bringing back paper bags.

“There’s more work to do, but this step will mean we prevent 150 million bags from being used in our stores every year.”

The announcement from Morrisons came alongside the launch of a behaviour change campaign aimed at reducing waste packaging from its in-store meat counters, fishmongers and deli sections.

The month-long campaign will see shoppers given 100 loyalty card points when they bring reusable containers to these sections, with a view to making the offer a permanent fixture if successful.

The changes arrived after a survey of 5,000 consumers found that 80% would endorse a supermarket’s move to cut its plastic output, while 91% would be more likely to encourage friends and family to shop there as a result of such a pledge.

It’s in the bag

The war on plastic waste in supermarkets has continued to build momentum recently, with Tesco last month calling for a recycling infrastructure reform as it pledged to make all its packaging closed-loop.

Meanwhile, Co-op has put in place a long-term ambition for 100% of its product packaging to be recyclable, with an intermediate target of 80% by 2020, while Iceland is trialling an in-store deposit return scheme and has adopted a new “plastic free” packaging mark as part of its commitment to remove plastic packaging from its own brand products by 2023.

The move from Morrisons builds on its introduction of a 5p charge for each plastic carrier bag purchased in store and a 40p bag charge for every online shop, which it introduced in 2015.

A big drop of up to 30% in plastic bags found in the seas around Britain has been credited to the introduction of similar charge schemes in the UK and other European nations, with initiatives rolled out in Ireland and Denmark 12 years before they came into force in Britain.

In a drive to go one step further, Morrisons and other UK supermarkets including Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have all committed to remove single-use plastic bags from their stores entirely to further incentivise customers to bring their own.

Sarah George

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