M&S to charge for carrier bags

M&S to charge 5p for plastic bags

High Street giant Marks and Spencer are leading the way in supermarket green initiatives by charging its food shoppers for plastic bags.

Customers will have to pay 5p for every plastic bag they use, with the money raised going to an environmental charity.

Chief executive Sir Stuart Rose said the aim is to ‘make it easy for our customers to do their bit to help the environment.’

Some 13 billion plastic bags are given free to UK shoppers every year, and they take an estimated 1,000 years to decay, clogging up landfill sites and putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the environment.

The move comes after trials at 50 Marks and Spencer stores across England, which found that the policy resulted in a 70% fall in demand for polythene bags.

Sir Stuart said that if that figure was replicated across the country, the move could reduce the number of bags used by 280m each year.

‘On top of this,’ he added, ‘our customers will be raising valuable funds to go to our partner charity, Groundwork, to invest in much-needed green spaces in our neighbourhoods.

‘We’ve got a very ambitious plan, our Plan A as we call it. One of the five pillars of that plan is to send no waste to landfill by 2012.

‘That’s an extraordinarily hard thing to achieve and we have to move downward in terms of our usage.’
He told the BBC the charge on food bags, and not all of Marks and Spencer’s plastic bags, was taken as a ‘first step’.

He said: ‘The biggest usage of bags in our business, by a huge amount, is plastic bags in food.
‘I think you’ll find that if we move in this direction this time, it’s only a matter of time before we move on.’

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