M&S switches from plastic bags for life to paper options

The new bags have been rolled out to all M&S Stores with a food department across the UK. They are made using an FSC-certified paper and, according to M&S, are capable of carrying more than 15kg.

A natural resin is applied to the bags to enhance water resistance without rendering them hard-to-recycle.  Customers are being encouraged to use the bags multiple times before recycling at home and M&S claims this offers a convenience benefit, as plastic bags are not collected from homes and need to be taken to supermarkets with soft plastic collection points.

M&S’s director of corporate affairs Victoria McKenzie-Gould said “the vast majority” of customers –  more than 70% – already bring their own bags.

“But, on the odd occasion when we all need to reach for one more bag, we’re pleased to be offering a more sustainable option for customers,” she said.

A smaller and less robust paper bag will be added to M&S’s clothing and home departments. Like the food bag, it will be made using FSC-certified paper and be coated with a recyclable natural resin.

The switch means that M&S will need to find an alternative use for the soft plastics it collects in-store for recycling, which has, to date, been used to make bags for life. McKenzie-Gould said the intention is to incorporate this recycled content into bin bags.

M&S will continue to sell reusable tote bags in addition to the paper bags.

Push for paper packaging

Packaging company DS Smith revealed today that 80% of UK-based consumers would prefer to receive a product in paper or cardboard packaging than plastic packaging.

The firm polled 500 adults who shop online at least four times a year. One in five said they would be willing to pay more for a plastic-free option and one in four said they would not shop again with a brand they perceived to use too much unnecessary packaging.

“At a time when consumers are keeping an eye on their spending and competition for customers is fierce, brands risk losing business if their packaging fails to meet online shoppers’ increased sustainability standards,” said DS Smith’s e-commerce business unit lead for the UK, Anne Curtis.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie