Bag giveaway highlights plastic bag waste

Shoppers snapped up 10,000 free cotton reusable bags in less than three hours during a giveaway in central London to promote the launch of a campaign to reuse plastic bags.

Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron (centre) is joined by Jenny Jones from the Green Party and thelondonpaper distributors at the campaign launch

Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron (centre) is joined by Jenny Jones from the Green Party and thelondonpaper distributors at the campaign launch

Recycle for London and thelondonpaper gave out the fairtrade bags - which use organic cotton and environmentally-friendly inks - on Oxford Street and Regent Street on Friday evening.

It followed a call from the Mayor of London's office for Londoners to reuse their plastic bags and say no to new bags.

On average, Londoners use more than 37m new plastic bags each week, adding up to an annual total of 2.2bn new plastic bags in the capital.

Only one in 200 bags is recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill or incineration.

Launching the campaign at Oxford Circus, Deputy Mayor of London Nicky Gavron said: "Today's campaign is a suitable reminder for Londoners to stand back and look at the amount of rubbish they create on a weekly basis."

Stefano Hatfield, editor of thelondonpaper, said: "The environment is a top priority for thelondonpaper and our readers. We fully support this project, which will help reduce waste in the capital."

The campaign has been welcomed by the New West End Company, the body responsible for promoting and enhancing retail in London's West End.

Chief executive Richard Dickinson said: "West End retailers are also very keen to encourage green shopping practices with many of them introducing their own eco-bags this year.

"The Mayor's support will help us all focus on the things we can do, every day, to become green consumers."

A spokesperson for the Mayor's office said there are currently no plans to repeat the giveaway in the current financial year, but Recycle for London may consider it under next year's budget.

Kate Martin

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