M&S replaces plastic carrier bags with paper
Marks & Spencer is introducing paper carrier bags in all its stores, becoming the latest chain to replace plastic.
Supermarket groups Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose already provide paper bags, though some offer plastic bags as an option.
The move is controversial because more energy is used producing paper than plastic and it also weighs more, thereby increasing the carbon footprint of transport companies.
Environmental groups have questioned how many uses a paper bag can actually survive, particularly in wet weather.
Marks & Spencer said it has worked with the University of Sheffield to develop a bag that is made using renewable energy. It said its bags can carry more than 15kg – equivalent to more than six four-pint bottles – and can be reused at least 100 times.
Paper decomposes much more quickly than plastic, making it is less likely to be a source of litter or risk to wildlife. It is also more widely recyclable, while plastic bags can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose.
Corporate affairs director Victoria McKenzie-Gould said: “Our customers have always pushed us to lead on the issues they care about most, from animal welfare to reducing food waste.
“And reducing single use plastic is right up there too, which is why we’ve been busy finding ways to use less and making it easier for our customers to do the same.
“In Food, where the majority of our plastic product packaging is used, we hit our target of removing 75 million pieces this year.
“On plastic bags we were the first retailer to introduce carrier bag charging back in 2008 and since then we’ve been introducing new, more sustainable choices for customers.
“Over 70% of M&S customers are now choosing to bring their own bags or don’t use one at all when shopping with us. But now they want us to go further and find a solution which avoids plastic for those trips when they do need a bag.”
All 1,000-plus stores will offer Forest Stewardship Council certified paper bags at checkouts. The bags are replacing the ecoloop plastic bags for life and there will be a simpler one in Clothing & Home.