Waitrose launches two-week bag ban

PUBLISHED: 11:43 17 May 2007 | UPDATED: 10:21 31 May 2010

Hilda Tate packing her goods using a reusable carrier bag watched by Ann Harriman on the till – Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Hilda Tate packing her goods using a reusable carrier bag watched by Ann Harriman on the till - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

A SUPERMARKET is going green by not offering carrier bags to customers as part of a two-week trial. The Waitrose store in Hill Street, Saffron Walden, normally gets through more than 22,500 plastic bags a week and is the first of the company s 183 branche

A SUPERMARKET is going green by not offering carrier bags to customers as part of a two-week trial.

The Waitrose store in Hill Street, Saffron Walden, normally gets through more than 22,500 plastic bags a week and is the first of the company's 183 branches to experiment with the bag ban.

The average carrier bag is only used for about 20 minutes. Once groceries are unpacked the bags clog up the earth for a thousand years.

The carrier bag free zone is Waitrose's way of changing people's shopping habits.

Part of the reason the Saffron Walden store was chosen was because its carrier bag recycling facility is well used.

The trial, which started on Monday, is already being well received by shoppers.

Customer Michael Nelson said: "I think it is a good idea. There are far too many carrier bags in landfill sites already."

On Tuesday branch manager, Malcolm Domb, said: "We are having a really great reaction to the initiative.

"The comments we have been getting are all very positive. It has helped to receive national media attention as customers know what we are doing and why."

He said the trial aimed to encourage people to recycle previously used carriers or use 'bag for life' shopping bags.

For two weeks before the trial began, Waitrose Bags for Life were issued free of charge.

During the trial, customers will be able to buy long-life carrier bags in addition to using their own bags or suitable containers.

Mr Domb, said: "It's really exciting that customers here in Saffron Walden will have a pioneering role when it comes to shaping our green agenda as a business.

"As a business we are committed to reducing unnecessary packaging and plastic bag usage.

"By introducing this initiative we hope to continue to raise awareness and have a positive influence on shopping habits when it comes to the environment.

"Waitrose will be looking at how customers respond to their new bagless tills before deciding on its next steps as a business."

In a typical year Waitrose provides about 250 million of the nine billion carrier bags handed out by UK retailers.

Most are given away free of charge, but this has not always been the case. Waitrose was the last supermarket to stop charging for carrier bags, a policy it changed due to commercial pressures.

Despite the success of Waitrose Bags for Life bags - which can be purchased for 10p and replaced free of charge when worn out, many customers still use the free disposable carrier bags.

In February 2007, Waitrose signed up to the government's voluntary code of practice on carrier bags, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags.

The trial will last until Sunday May 27.

What do you think? E-mail your thoughts on Waitrose's no carrier bag trial to us at editor@ saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

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