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Recycling boost in the bag

PUBLISHED: 08:48 22 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:59 06 July 2010

BOSSES at the East of England Co-Operative Society have spoken of their delight after achieving a reduction of 84pc in the usage of plastic carrier bags in a year.

BOSSES at the East of England Co-Operative Society have spoken of their delight after achieving a reduction of 84pc in the usage of plastic carrier bags in a year.

The group said it had made huge strides towards eliminating carrier bag use after introducing a charge in September last year, cutting numbers by 500,000 a week.

It came as the British Retail Consortium said major supermarket chains had failed to hit the voluntary target of a 50pc cut in plastic bag usage on 2006 figures.

The Co-op, which is the largest independent retailer in East Anglia with 140 food stores, supermarkets and food stores, is now calling on other food retailers to follow its lead to stop giving away free carrier bags.

Richard Samson, chief executive, said: “When we introduced the scheme we had hoped for a reduction of around 75-80pc.

“In fact, we have achieved a reduction of 84pc on the previous year's figures, which is way ahead of the industry average and sets a clear benchmark for others to follow.

“We're delighted that our customers have readily embraced our scheme and we are now saving over half a million carrier bags a week from going to landfill - so far the total number saved has been a massive 25 million.

“There is now a huge public awareness about this issue and customers are much more open to change than they are being given credit for by some other retailers, but to make real progress nationally we now need the other major supermarket chains to bite the bullet and stop giving away free carrier bags.”

Mr Samson added: “If our competitors followed our lead there would be huge benefits to communities across the country.”

Customers are encouraged to reuse their own bags and are charged 1p for a small plastic carrier bag and 2p for the larger size bag.

A selection of environmentally friendly alternatives is also on offer, including a specially designed range of Bags for Life.

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