Manchester-based Co-op Group has announced it will stop selling plastic “bags for life” because many shoppers use them only once and they have become almost as big a problem as the single-use bags they replaced.
Co-op Group said it will also roll out compostable bags to all its 2,600 stores.
The retailer said its new initiative will remove 29.5 million bags for life, weighing around 870 tonnes of plastic, from sale each year.
Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield, CEO, Co-op Food, said: “Increased use of Bags for Life has led to a sharp rise in plastic use.
“With over 1.5 billion bags sold each year by retailers, this remains a massive issue for our industry as many shoppers are regularly buying so called ‘Bags for Life’ to use just once and it’s leading to major hike in the amount of plastic being produced.
“To help tackle plastic pollution and the use of unnecessary plastic, we will be ceasing the sale of Bags for Life when current stocks are exhausted.
“We’re also ensuring all of our members and customers have access to a low price point option that’s more environmentally friendly, alongside more durable bags at a higher price point.
“We believe that it should be mandatory for all retailers to report on the sales of all of their reusable bags, not just single-use bags.
“Right now, Co-op is the only major retailer to report on all of the bags it sells.
“This policy would enable a fuller understanding on the impact of the levy and its true effect on shopping behaviours when customers are making decisions at the tills.”