Tag Archives: Bags

Green Alliance simple actions to tackle marine litter

Plastic marine litter from the UK could be reduced by nearly two thirds with five simple actions, says think tank Green Alliance.

Green Alliance simple actions to tackle marine litter

In a speech to WWF on 21 July, Environment Secretary Michael Gove promised to tackle marine plastic litter as part of a renewed waste and resources strategy. Green Alliance said Gove’s announcement that microbeads will be banned from rinse-off products later this year is a step forward, but it will tackle less than 1% of the problem. The government’s plastic bag charge also addresses 1% of the plastic that enters the sea.

The think tank said other well-publicised methods, which use buoys to remove litter from the open oceans, only tackle floating debris and so could only remove 2% of the plastic that gets into the sea. This is because most plastic sinks below the ocean surface or is ingested by animals.

According to Green Alliance analysis, the single most effective action would be to stop plastic bottles getting into the sea through a deposit return scheme (DRS). The largest proportion (33%) of plastic litter comes from plastic bottles, and this problem is likely to escalate as global bottle production is forecast to jump by 20 per cent by 2021.

Alongside a deposit return scheme, Green Alliance believes four other actions would reduce the UK’s contribution to plastic pollution in the sea by nearly two thirds in total:

  • enforce Operation Clean Sweep to cut pollution from plastic pellets or ‘nurdles’ used as raw material in industrial processes (9% of plastic pollution); [5]
  • enforce existing maritime waste dumping bans, using techniques similar to those used by Norway to enforce its fish discards ban (11% of plastic pollution); [6]
  • upgrade wastewater treatment plants with sand filters to retain the micro plastic fibres shed from synthetic clothes when they are washed (9% of plastic pollution); [7] and
  • Expand the UK’s ban on microbeads to all products, not just rinse-off products (1% of plastic pollution).

Dustin Benton, acting policy director for Green Alliance said: “It’s depressing to visit a beach that is covered with plastic, and downright scary to learn that the seafood you are eating might be contaminated by plastic pollution. The popularity of the microbeads ban and plastic bag charge shows the public is up for tackling these problems. The government should listen, introduce a bottle deposit scheme, and enforce rules on sources of industrial waste. These simple steps would address two-thirds of the UK’s marine plastic problem.”

There has of course been much opposition to DRS, most recently from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) who said their research indicated that a deposit return scheme would negatively impact local shops.

Tesco drops 5p carrier bags in trial

Tesco has launched a ten-week trial to find out how customers manage without the 5p carrier bag option.

Tesco drops 5p carrier bags in trial

The store’s customers will instead have the option of buying a reusable bag if needed.

The move could potentially lead to a phasing out of the ‘single use’ bags across the country.

A Tesco spokesperson told. “We are carrying out a short trial in a few stores to look at the impact on bag usage if we remove single-use carrier bags. In these stores, customers who need a bag can still buy a Bag for Life which they can reuse.”

The supermarket said it implements many different trials each year “to see how we can improve our business and serve customers better.”

Tesco’s online customers will still have the option of 5p bags for deliveries, but increasingly people are choosing to go without.

“Our Dotcom delivery service will continue to use single use carrier bags but customers can, of course, choose a ‘bagless’ delivery option.”

Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme will continue and customers can vote in store to choose which local groups they wish to support in store by collecting a blue token.

In October 2015 England became the UK’s last country to start charging for plastic bags.

The benefits of packaging need to be heard

The benefits of packaging need to be heard. The world has changed enormously since INCPEN was established in 1974. Yet today, some of the issues the packaging industry has to deal with seem depressingly familiar.

The benefits of packaging need to be heard


One of the first challenges we faced in 1974 was the growing problem of litter, with environment groups blaming packaging. They were also critical of increasing consumerism and people’s changing lifestyles but they criticised packaging instead because this put the blame on industry, not individuals.

Litter, especially marine litter, remains a problem and packaging is still singled out as the main culprit. The reason given by politicians for introducing charges for carrier bags is typically to prevent them ‘spoiling the landscape’ as litter. The facts are conveniently ignored. According to the latest (2014) survey of litter by Keep Britain Tidy, commissioned by INCPEN, carrier bags were less than 1% of littered items. But the charge has set a precedent for adding costs to packaging and there are now campaigns to impose deposits on drinks containers and taxes on other types of packaging.

No one points out that there is a huge difference between a carrier bag charge, which can be avoided simply by using your own bag, and deposits or taxes which everyone has to pay. In response to the public’s negative perception of packaging, policymakers are tending to propose measures that typically focus on used packaging.

The industry needs to continue to develop clever packaging that responds to changing demographics, lifestyles and shopping habits and helps make supply chains more sustainable. But if companies want the freedom to be able to use the best pack for the job, they will also have to explain the role of packaging and that it has a net positive enviroment benefit in protecting more resources than it uses.

Tesco customers decide how to spend plastic bag donated money

Tesco customers will decide which local community projects will receive the lion’s share of the money donated through the 5p plastic bag charge.

Tesco customers

Tesco customers. through the scheme, called ‘Bags of Help’, grants of £8,000, £10,000 and £12,000 will be awarded to charities and groups across the UK for spending on environmental improvement projects. Tesco customers will receive a token at the till to vote for the local project they think most deserves the bumper £12,000 grant, and have until 6 March to make their vote count. Over 1000 community projects will benefit from Tesco’s scheme.

A total of £11.5m raised from the sale of Tesco bags in the UK since October 2015 will be donated through Bags of Help, which is expected to be one of the biggest environmental improvement drives the UK has ever seen.

Over a thousand initiatives directly chosen by local people will get the green light thanks to the scheme including brand new pocket parks, sports facilities, woodland walks and community gardens. Bags of Help will be administered by UK environmental improvement charity Groundwork.

Matt Davies, Tesco UK and ROI chief executive said: “We want to serve Britain’s shoppers a little better every day, and everything we do at Tesco is informed by what our customers tell us.

“That’s why we wanted to give our customers the chance to choose the environmental projects they most want to benefit from the money raised through the bag charge.

“Our customers will help us make sure the money raised through the charge goes to make the biggest difference to local communities up and down the country.”

The projects that will be voted on by Tesco customers were nominated by local people and community groups, and whittled down to three for each area by special teams made up of Tesco colleagues from local stores.

Customers can make their choice in store and join the conversation on twitter using #BagsOfHelp.