Tesco will end the sale of 5p carrier bags over the UK in three weeks’ time, and will rather offer 10p “bags for life” to buyers.
Tesco sells about 700 million single-use carrier bags a year, the greatest among the dominant supermarkets, but sales will cease in stores on 28 August.
The supermarket announced the decision followed a case which drove to a 25% cut in bag sales.
Prices for plastic bags have been the same in the UK since October 2015.
Wales began crediting 5p per bag and noticed a 71% drop in the number used by consumers in 2011. Northern Ireland added charges in 2013, succeeded by Scotland in 2014. England was the latest country in the UK to charge, showing an 83% decline in use.
Tesco administered a 10-week trial in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich in May. Plastic, single-use bags were removed leaving customers with the choice of taking their own or purchasing a “bag for life”.
That will now be a constant move at markets across the UK. The more expensive bags are made from 94% recycled plastic and will be traded without charge when damaged, the supermarket responds.
Online shoppers can still opt to accept their shipments in single-use carrier bags after store sales end, Tesco says, although just over half already choose a bagless distribution.
Sales of the more costly “bags for life” fund rewards for community projects – comparable to other supermarkets’ charity endowments following the opening of plastic bag charging.Tesco announced that its plan had paid £33m to more than 6,400 organizations.
Matt Davies, UK and Irish Republic chief executive at Tesco, said: “The number of bags being bought by our customers has already reduced dramatically. [This] move will help our clients use even fewer bags but ensure that those sold in our stores continue to fund thousands of community projects across the country chosen by customers.”
Sainsbury had discarded single-use bags from stores when carrier bag charges were presented.
Louise Edge, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “It is great to see major retailers moving away from disposable plastic. For too long we have seen plastic as something to be used once and thrown away. However, there is no such place as ‘away’ – and millions of tonnes of plastic are ending up in our rivers, beaches, streets and the sea every year, harming marine life.
“The plastic bag charge has done wonders for reducing the number of bags polluting our coastlines and waters. Now we need to see the same for throwaway plastic bottles – a deposit return scheme which encourages collection.”