Sainsbury’s to stop Nectar points for bag reuse

Retail giant Sainsbury's has announced that it will stop rewarding shoppers with Nectar points for every bag they reuse from April next year, as part of wider changes to its loyalty programme.

The changes, which have provoked a backlash on social media, mean that from 11 April 2015 Sainsbury’s will award one Nectar point for every pound spent compared with two at present.

However, the retailer announced that customers would still earn one point per litre of fuel bought from Sainsbury’s forecourts.

A Sainsbury’s spokesman told “Yes we will be removing points on bags from 11 April 2015 in all of our stores as part of a wider review of our Nectar offering to customers.

“We’ve seen a change in customer behaviour that suggests customers are generally reusing bags without taking the ‘one Nectar point’ reward.

“This is also in line with new legislation to charge customers for single use bags. In response to the 5p levy on single use bags brought in by respective governments in Wales (Oct 2011) and Northern Ireland (Apr 2013), we withdrew single use carrier bags in our stores there. This is already in effect.

“A levy is expected to come in for England late next year.”

Cutting carbon

The news comes as Scotland launched charges for single-use carrier bags today (20 October). Every retailer in Scotland will charge at least 5p for each new carrier bag they give to shoppers.

Elsewhere, the Sainsbury’s spokesman added that there was a “lot more to plastic bag use than just the point of sale”.

He said: “We’ve reengineered our orange bag that’s commonly used in England to make it thinner gauge while remaining strong. As a result, you can transport more of them at once – more in a pack, more on a lorry – cutting carbon. We’ve also encouraged single use bags at our stores and have recently produced bags for life made entirely from our orange bags.

“We’re also removing our orange bag completely in Scotland as the new charge comes in, replacing with a white reusable.”

Customer incentives

The move by Sainsbury’s to change its loyalty system for bag reuse has prompted criticism from Keep Britain Tidy, which is part of the ‘Break the Bag Habit’ coalition of environmental charities.

Keep Britain Tidy spokeswoman Helen Bingham told “Obviously we are disappointed that England will have to wait until October 2015 to have a bag charge that will reduce the number of single-use plastic bags given out in our shops. The delay means that between now and then about seven billion single-use carrier bags will be given out in England.

“Until the charge comes in, we would like to see every supermarket and retailer do what they can to reduce the number of bags given out and incentivise their customers to move away from the single-use bag. These bags are not free, they have an environmental cost. They are a highly visible form of litter and, once in the marine environment, can have a devastating impact on marine wildlife.”

Scotland’s carrier bag charge: In numbers

Liz Gyekye

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