Morrissons has become the latest recruit to the war on plastic, announcing it will begin to “phase out” single-use plastic bags across its stores from March.
The ban will mean single use plastic bags that are subject to a five pence charge will no longer be available. However, a 10p “reusable” plastic bag will remain in circulation.
The hope is the shift to reusable only bags will encourage more shoppers to bring their own bags to the supermarket.
A spokesperson for Morrisons confirmed single use bags will be removed from distribution centres first, before then being phased out at the company’s supermarkets.
The whole process is expected to take a “matter of months”, although the firm did not specify a specific end date.
Campaign group A Plastic Planet, which has led calls for ‘plastic-free aisles’ in supermarkets, congratulated Morrisons on its move.
However, co-founder Sian Sutherland said more needed to be done to tackle plastic waste across the sector. “It’s clear that the UK supermarkets must do much more than simply banning single-use plastic bags,” she said in a statement. “We have to turn off the plastic tap urgently. Morrisons should introduce a Plastic Free Aisle at the earliest opportunity.”
She added that there was strong public support for such measures. “A Populus poll revealed last year that more than nine in 10 Britons support the introduction of a Plastic Free Aisle in supermarkets,” she said. “It’s high time the UK’s biggest supermarkets backed the move.”
Morrisons’ announcement is the latest in a string of moves by retailers to crack down on plastic waste.
This week, Asda published a plastic waste action plan, saying it would reduce the amount of plastics in its own brands by 10 per cent over the next year and begin searching for new options to replace plastic packaging. Meanwhile, Tesco and Iceland have all announced a range of new commitments to curb plastic use.
The blitz of announcements come after Prime Minister Theresa May last month unveiled a new 25 Year Environment Plan, which signalled the government’s support for ‘plastic free aisles’, proposed a series of consultations to investigate new plastic waste levies, and set a target to end ‘avoidable’ plastic waste by 2042.