/ Money, Shopping, Travel & Leisure

New plastic bag charges for England – are you happy to pay?

plastic bags

People in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland have been paying for plastic bags for some time and now England is joining in. In this guest contribution, Which? Convo regular John Ward asks ‘will it work?’

From Monday 5 October 2015 it will become compulsory for shops with more than 250 workers overall to charge for plastic bags, so most of the high street stores are covered.

It won’t apply to franchises and shops in a ‘symbol’ group if the franchise holder or symbol trader has fewer than 250 staff, even if the overall group has a larger number. Shops that don’t have to charge can do so if they want to (and can do what they like with the money) and shops can charge more if they want to.

Plastic bag charges: the finer details

So far, so good – but there’s more. A lot more. The levy applies to single use carrier bags. These are defined as ‘unused, plastic, with handles, and 70 microns thick or less’. The finer details are set out in government advice to retailers if you can bear to read them.

Government officials must have had a great time concocting this particular set of rules and making sure nothing would slip through a hole in the regulations.

For ‘bags for life’ it explains what counts as a ‘returnable multiple-reuse bag’. It’s too nerdy to repeat in full, but they’re exempt if at least 5p is charged for them and they are replaced free of charge when worn out. The rules also make it clear that gussets don’t count in the dimensions, nor do the handles unless they are on wavy top bags. I’m so glad they went the extra mile on that.

There’s also a whole list of items that shops won’t have to charge for (including uncooked meat, fish, unwrapped food, dry cleaning, rhyzomes, axes, and live aquatic creatures in water). They’ve thought of everything messy, and they’ve even got some rules for shops that put the cornflakes in with the rhyzomes (must charge, if you’re interested).

Home deliveries and click-&-collect services will be required to comply and the major supermarkets will likely charge an average of 40p per home delivery. You can opt for no bags – but your groceries will be loose in the totes.

The benefits of playing for plastic bags

So why is this happening? Basically to discourage the use of plastic, which consumes fossil fuels during manufacturing and leads to a lot of litter after use. Defra says:

‘In 2014 over 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were given to customers by major supermarkets in England. That’s something like 140 bags per person, equivalent to 61,000 tonnes in total. They take longer than other bags to degrade in the environment, can damage wildlife, and are extremely visible when littered in our towns, parks and the countryside.’

They also interfere with watercourses and are harmful to wildfowl, aquatic mammals and other creatures. It’s estimated that over the next 10 years the benefits will include:

  • An overall benefit of over £780 million to the UK economy
  • Up to £730 million raised for good causes
  • £60 million savings in litter clean-up costs
  • Carbon savings of £13 million

Retailers are ‘expected’ to donate the proceeds from the sale of plastic bags to ‘good causes’ – but good causes are not necessarily the same as registered charities. The guidance makes clear that this is not a tax and that the money from the charge does not go to the government. It is for retailers to choose what to do, and which causes to support.

Retailers will need to report to Defra about what they do with the money from the charge, and this information will be published each year. The charge in Wales has already generated millions of pounds for good causes.

So will you willingly pay the new charges on 5 October, knowing that your money is going to some ‘good causes’? Or would you rather things stay as they are and leave it up to the shopper to take a reusable bag or not? I’m glad the charge is coming to England. In fact, I wish it had happened sooner.

This is a guest contribution by Which? Convo community member John Ward. He originally shared this idea in the Which? Convo Ideas lounge. All opinions are John’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Are you happy to pay for plastic shopping bags in supermarkets?

Yes (63%, 1,750 Votes)

No (35%, 984 Votes)

Don't know (2%, 62 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,796

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Comments
Member

The charge sounds like a laudable attempt to reduce the waste of plastic bags. But why are we so addicted to plastic in every aspect of our lives? As a society we use one-time only, plastic bottles, soup containers and other receptacles. Why can’t companies produce biodegradable containers? There are many available which prevent spillage. Plastic causes destruction to our wildlife, rivers and the oceans. It is time we got serious about this beyond a few plastic bags.

Member

VEE- and plastic drinking bottles provide serious health risks to men.

Member

While weeding my reading list I found this Defra report entitled ‘Review of standards for biodegradable plastic carrier bags’: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/485904/carrier-bag-biodegradable-report-2015.pdf

The problem is that most of the supposedly biodegradable bags are not broken down quickly enough and can cause mayhem in the environment.

Member

I agree. we should concentrate on producing less waste, not allowing the same amount but making it biodegradable. That does not save increasingly scarce resources. And what value does this degraded plastic add to the landfill?

Member

Laudable comment malcolm but why does the government not bring out laws to stop BB mail shots -literally TONS of paper mail goes through doors every day of the week . But hold on ,we are talking BB who run HMG . And dont tell me its all “sustainable ” mail want me to quote the Forrest,s ?? and the angry natives who live in them . And if you think it is please quote where it all comes from.

Member

This includes junk from charities. I receive Christmas cards, drinks mats, memo pads, address stickers, pens and begging letters from them (not every week though!). This is expensive “marketing” where presumably the cost is exceeded by the donations it recovers (a bit like Which?’s peculiar advertising on the tv perhaps – what is it all about? They won’t tell). It does not seem right that they operate in this way.

And while we’re about it, the only newspaper I buy is the Saturday DT, mainly for the tv guide, motoring and money sections, certainly not the (lack of news-)paper. But out of the total weight of 1535g, the bit I use is 221g – just 14%. Newspapers should pay a weight tax.

Compare this with a fact-filled Which? collection this month – 407g, and a very informative and entertaining Private Eye weighing in at just 79g.

A War on Waste! (Not original like Keep Britain tidy, but appropriate 🙂 )

Member

I like it malcolm.

Member

I meet and I speak to our postman and we cannot refuse to take the rubbish
Whether he would be in trouble or not I dont know but he is expected to deliver endless nationwide company adds and local Spar etc where we never go flyers
Why should we have to take this stuff. . .Why can we not be allowed to say NO MORE
It’s just filling up the recycle boxes and the fact we send it to recycling is not the answer. . It took loads of energy to produce, ,print and transport what to me is rubbish
I dont want to argue with the postmen as they are very good and they are only doing their job so are in”that position”
I already understand that a postman must deliver what he has to deliver

Member

Paper is biodegradable but represents a huge waste of resources if it goes straight in the bin. My junk mail goes in a wastepaper basket and only gets ‘read’ to decide whether it goes into the recycling bin or through the shredder. Thankfully the rise in postal charges has substantially cut the amount of post-paid mail.

Member

Wave, , Have a look at recycling “glossy” paper. .. It is not good stuff

Member

I thought Royal Mail had a process for stopping the delivery of unaddressed [junk] mail – I used it successfully at our previous address. They are under a statutory duty to deliver any mail addressed to a property. Before accepting instructions to cease delivery of junk mail though, the Royal Mail issue dire warnings that you might miss an important announcement from your local council or some other such missive. That is just bluster because obviously they don’t want to lose too many recipients as these unaddressed mail deliveries are an important part of their revenue stream.

Member

John, your junk mail might be un-addressed but all mine is addressed.

Member

I am sorry to hear that Duncan. I have dealt with most of the addressed junk mail so we hardly ever get any now. I have had to resort to some pretty tough warnings to get some companies or charities to stop but I have succeeded in the end.

I am pleased that some supermarkets have a receptacle so that you can tip out the junk from magazines before putting them in your trolley but it is a scandalous waste of resources that all this stuff is being printed and processed and then never gets looked at. I can only assume it is cheaper for the advertisers than taking space in the pages of the magazine itself. They must be under some misbegotten belief that it has more impact if included loose.

Member

I know, DK. One of the reasons is that the bacteria and other bugs that biodegrade paper work best on rough surfaces. Thick wadges of paper are not too good either, and paper that is waxed to make it water-resistant (e.g. paper shopping bags) can be remarkably resistant to degradation.

The main point is that we need to stop wasting paper.

Member

Sorry DK. I see you are referring to recycling glossy paper whereas I’m thinking of biodegradation. I had not realised that glossy paper is not good for recycling but I know now. I’m not allowed to vote down my earlier comment. 🙁

Member

Wave, , No need for the sorry’s. . I read stuff all the time and too quickly I see what I want to see but it shows you eventually take the time to re-read what you write and what you were replying to. . .I do this also but the time allowed for editing should be a little longer, ,
Everyone can see you mean well
I’ll not be going to town on spelling or grammar either but I try my best even if my fingers play havoc with my spelling

Member

Most of the unwanted literature that arrives in our house falls out of the magazines we subscribe to unfortunately. It’s the price we pay for getting them at less than the cover price and a day or so before they appear in the shops.

In regards to personally addressed charity appeals I always return them with a polite note to request removal of our details from their records. It usually works, but for some I have had to send stiff letters. I know someone who puts all unwanted stuff that comes through the letterbox in a convenient post box.

Member

I hoped that the plastic bag charges would put an end to most of the bags that charities put through my letterbox. To start with, the number seemed to decrease, but normal service has been resumed.

The easy way to get rid of the wasted newspaper is to stop buying printed newspapers. I did that about ten years ago when my local newsagent went out of business and I wish I had done this sooner.

Member

I read the BBC news and seldom watch it and find I can “digest it” better. . . On the dark evenings it can use up most of the “soaps” few hours
We havnt bought a paper in many years

Member

The only beneficiary of this stupid rule are the supermarkets.

Strangely enough we have never been in the habit of throwing bags out to blow around the countryside and we always re used the shopping bags to store kitchen rubbish, as biodegradable paper bags etc are not strong enough. Now we have run out – guess what – I am now buying “proper” bin liners at greater expense, hence the supermarket benefiting although the amount of plastic used is the same.

If we were REALLY interested in saving plastic we would ban selling water in bottles when tap water is more than adequate!

Member

While previous attempts at plastic eating fungi havent been easy to produce this looks promising. DR.Shosuke Yoshida from the Kyoto Institute of Technology used a more “down to earth ” method which makes sense. He dug in the soil outside a PET plant and discovered bacterium that was feeding on it when left alone in a jar the material broke down in a few weeks .The bacterium has been named Ideonella sakaiensis which has evolved by a pair of enzymes ,reduces the plastic down to its basic building blocks :two environmentally harmless monomers called terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol . This time by identifying the gene behind the bacterium,s creation of those two enzymes scientists were able to re-create them in their labs . Published in the Journal=Science .

Member

Let’s hope these don’t get loose in your house and consume the insulation on your wiring. Perhaps add them to landfill?

Member

Visions of a 50,s horror film —lying in bed at night a feeling of movement is felt ,a shiver runs up and down your spine as slowly a large blob of living jelly slowly eats its way through your duvet consuming your jammy,s as its icy cold touch reaches your skin leaving a slimy trail over your bare body . Growing larger as it does so consuming the mattress and pillows ,a scream rises up from your wife as her nighty disappears in seconds, giving off a blue fluorescent glow that pulses every two seconds it slides off the bed heading towards the door and the living room curtains and three piece suite . Soon an echo from an empty house bereft of furnishings is heard as its now great bulk smashes down the front door and heads to—–

Member

Thanks for the information about the new plastic-degrading bacterium, Duncan.

It produces an esterase enzyme that can only attack polyesters, so it will not help with plastics such as polythene and polypropylene.

Member

wavechange– polypropylene — well at least your electric kettle is safe and –polythene– and various 50,s/60,s kitsch clothing for women wont need to be preserved in a vault in the London Design museum .

Member

I guess that Malcolm’s wiring insulation is PVC, so that should be safe too. The kettle is mainly stainless steel and its replacement will have no plastic.

Member
Susan says:
12 March 2016

I don’t mind the charge as I always take my own. However, Ocado do not have an option for delivering shopping without bags. So you get charged for bags you don’t need then they refund you for the bags you send back, in my case all of them. I contacted them but they say they can’t deliver without bags even though Tesco and Sainsburys do! It’s mad, so I’m getting picky with them and making sure I get all of them refunded which feels petty but justified.

Member

Susan, Waitrose also gives you the option whether to accept bags or not when you place your online order.

Member

Sainsbury’s also offer a bags option for a standard charge of 40p [but that will cover more than eight bags if necessary]. I think Waitrose charge the same although their home delivery bags are much larger and stronger so can be reused many times. The Waitrose man wears a suit and tie. Sainsbury’s personnel wear van overalls. It’s in the price.

Member
Pelly says:
6 April 2016

Why can’t shops revert to paper bags & sacks which can easily be recycled? We happily used them for years before plastic versions came along!

Member

Well it looks as though the policy has been a success. It was reported on the BBC News website earlier today that “plastic bag use has plummeted in England since the introduction of a 5p charge last year . . . In the six months after the levy was brought in last October, 640 million plastic bags were used in seven major supermarkets in England . . . In 2014, the waste reduction charity Wrap estimated the same supermarkets had used 7.64 billion bags. This could lead to an annual saving of over 6 billion bags in England on top of the big reductions in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Blessed are the bag makers for they have lost their jobs in a noble cause.

Member

I suspect, given the wealth of data elsewhere that showed the effect of levying a small charge for plastic bags, the real question is why did the Government prevaricate for so long?

Member

Could it possibly have been because the Conservative majority in the coalition did not want to implement a scheme that the LibDems were championing and give them the credit for an environmental success story? Perish the thought.

Member

Of course. Silly me.

Member

I suspect that there was reluctance to ban free bags because it would not be popular with the majority, even though some of us would have welcomed the move decades ago.

Perhaps we can think about other changes that could be introduced. I would like to get rid of bottled water. It would have been relatively easy before marketing made it a daily essential for many people. Maybe skip that idea and try something easier first.

A fairly non-controversial move would be to insist that all single-use plastics are clearly marked with a recycling code (a resin identification code to use its Sunday name). 1 for PET, 5 for polypropylene, and so on. Ask councils to provide a sticker showing which types can go into our recycling bins and teach kids about recycling so that they can help their parents learn to segregate waste properly.

Member

Some trains were cancelled recently and the company arranged for replacement road coaches. The station officer immediately handed out free bottles of water [not chilled though]. Nobody had been waiting long, it was not oppressively hot, the coach was air-conditioned, and the journey was only an hour. Apprehending the absence of a toilet on the coach and the possibility of a delay en route, we abstained.

I guess most plastic water and drinks bottles do end up in the recycling bin and a measure like the plastic bag tax would not be workable. Our council will take any type of plastic in the recycling collection and they just sort it out at the plant.

I find tap water kept in a jug in the fridge and refilled frequently is all I need at home. With a little planning some can be put in a vacuum flask for a car journey.

Member

The Natural Hydration Council, a trade association for bottled water producers, would not be impressed by either of us, John.

Member

Ah! Wavechange , but I would be impressed with John and I am sure his wife is . Unlike me who isnt much bothered at my age now , I drink a well known Scottish bottled water but I know I shouldnt as the word – xenoestrogens looms large in them . I have brought this up before but nobody wants to talk about it , especially the government or industry as banning plastic bottles in the UK and changing to glass has been estimated to cost £billions to change the equipment . Meanwhile more and more men have low sperm counts , male babies are born with “problems ” down below , breast enlargement takes place and other things we dont like . its not only here but in the US where the tap water stinks and look at the cover up recently by US authorities about chemicals in the local water and that supplied from rivers and lakes . Not many men want their “drive ” to go down and I am sure their partners wouldnt be too happy.

Member

I do not agree that the tap water in this country stinks, Duncan. I rather like tap water so long as it is cold, which is not the case at this time of year unless it is refrigerated. I am rather partial to carbonated water, however, and my favourite is Badoit – the combination of minerals is very agreeable. Marks and Spencer’s version of sparkling Scottish mineral water is very tasty too and, in my opinion, better than the carbonated Highland Spring Water who I am sure are the makers of the M&S version; it must be tweaked to M&S’s own recipe. Some other supermarket own-label mineral waters are just awful and much worse than tap water. The one thing that spoils most bottled waters is the plastic bottle.

Member

Duncan – I assume you are referring to the xenoestrogen BPA. BPA is present in polycarbonate, but as far as I know, bottled water uses PET bottles which do not contain BPA. The inside of food/drink cans is coated with a film of material to protect them from corrosion by the contents, and this can contain BPA. I don’t buy bottled water.

Member

John I said –but in the US where the tap water stinks , I did not say UK. I have spoken to many US citizens throughout America and the majority dont like the tap water ,it is usually local springs ,but if you know the industrial history of the US then you will know that pollution takes place on a large scale and is covered up both by local authorities and the US government in the total interest of BB not the local inhabitants . I am in contact with US environmental groups and I am kept up to date with the latest poisoned water situations in the US . I am sure you have read of the latest disasters the inhabitants suing the council and winning , but it took ,cancer etc on a large scale and independent water testing for them to admit it .

Member

Perhaps now they’ve had success with plastic carriers the Government could really make an impact on waste by ensuring that domestic appliances – large and small – last longer and were repairable – so we stop chucking them out before they’ve had a decent working life.

Member

Companies urge us to buy new products and that is often regarded as good for the economy. As I see it, the government is too supportive of industry and I don’t see much chance of introducing legislation that would require industry to make products that are repairable and to hold stocks of the parts needed to effect repairs. If we push hard enough, the government may accede to a demand for longer guarantees, or consumers could push for them. Longer guarantees would encourage manufacture of repairable products and availability of spares because the manufacturer would have to pay for repairs, either directly or by reimbursement of retailers.

My view is that the environment is more important than the economy, so I keep products going for as long as is sensible. I would not want an old computer or phone but with most household goods there is usually no rapid design improvements, whatever the adverts may claim. I have decided to replace my 34 year old Electrolux chest freezer. It is still working but the compressor is wearing and using more energy than it should. I might still have had a fridge bought at the same time but the door seal had split through more frequent use and no spare was available.

It would be good to have more Convos about how we can all help minimise our impact on the environment.

Member

if you fridge door seals are gone ,and this is a common occurrence and you are worried about the environment Wavechange then how about a UK company that makes most of its own seals ? Head to –thesealcompany.co.uk/allprofiles.html . As an ex engineer i have replaced more seals on industrial equipment than some people have hot dinners , there is no “black magic ” anybody can do it and it doesnt matter if it doesnt look the same or if the fitting is different they can always be attached by different methods .

Member

Unfortunately you are nearly ten years too late, Duncan, but I have bookmarked the page. I did look at the possibility of replacing the seal at the time because I have seen this done with refrigeration equipment in our labs at work, but could not find anything suitable for my old Hoover fridge. Interestingly, the seal on the old freezer is still in good condition, probably because it was opened infrequently. I hope your advice on Which? Convo has encouraged some others to keep their appliances going.

Member

Duncan how do I know when the door seals on my fridge freezer have “gone”? Since the warmer weather my fridge is not keeping to the recommended temperature about 5-7 degrees. Its gone up to 10 and stays there on setting 5. If I turn the setting up to max at 7 it turns itself off! It’s getting on a bit (like its owner!) must be 13 + years old. The freezer compartment seems be working Ok so no problems in that dept!

Member

PS I think I have veered off topic.

Member

Beryl- You have not veered off topic you are asking me a legitimate question that could be helpful to others accessing Which. Over time two things can happen to door seals -#1- they harden up (eventually cracking ) in doing so the pliableness of the seal over a certain area is reduced thereby allowing in air which in pre- frost free freezers caused ice formation in FF fridges your power consumption goes up as the fridge tries to compensate for the rise in temperature due to room temperature air getting in. # 2- In soft seals that dont harden they too crack , not due to hardening but to the softer material breaking down from constant use. If it was the control or thermocouple it wouldnt matter if the external temperature changed it would give a wrong temperature unless it is partially working but it certainly shouldnt cut off at the full setting so that shows it could be the control/thermocouple at fault . If the freezer section is okay and no increase in power consumption there I would blame the control first of all if it was the door seals you would never get a steady temperature it would be always trying to achieve the set temperature and wouldnt cut off at full setting as it would, in theory never reach it. If you give me model number /make I could try an see if they still have spares for it.

Member

Duncan most of the instructions are written in German. It is an integrated appliance and came with the Moben (who are no longer operating) kitchen when it was installed. Model No CB 18M – 16M/1C 70/30.

Member

Beryl- while I got the cabinet fitting sizes for it by moben I could not find anything more on it under that name . Although Whirlpool have a fridge freezer – with the same starting name — CB18M , all the UK spares (online companies) dont supply spares for it.

Member

Many thanks Duncan, I don’t think the prob,em lies with the seals as you say. I was hoping it would hang on until I move, if not, in view of its age I will probably replace it if it goes before. Your advice is very much appreciated anyway.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
30 August 2016

If you are in a position of chucking it or a cheap repair …. how about some soft malleable gasket.

I thought of the idea and now some handy instructions:
http://www.amateurdiy.com/how-to/repair-bad-freezer-gasket-seal/
or possibly better
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/improve-freezer-seal-38407.html

Member

My mobile makes and receives calls and texts, is 10 years old, and has had one new battery. It’s all I need (I think!). So why should I change it every couple of years? Well, to keep up with my peers and get the latest toys of course. It seems strange to me that what was the latest thing that satisfied us a couple of years ago is now inadequate for our needs.

As we don’t manufacturer many mass-produced things in this country I don’t think our economy depends much on continually buying new products. It helps EU countries much more than us. Brexit gives us the opportunity to do our own thing if we so choose.

I’d like to see Which? do much more to support decent products that are repairable and durable. They generally are the “real value for money” option even for people beguiled by cheap initial price. Perhaps a heavy disposal tax might persuade us to buy more carefully? However, looking back through Which? campaigns I cannot see a single one directly aimed at better products. Have I missed some? They only seem concerned with services.

Convos are fine, but they are all talk. We need something to stimulate action.

Member

You havent missed anything Malcolm , you have found the raison d,etre of modern business society originating in the states – two years old –throw it away or you are not part of the “in crowd ” . This enables manufacturers to shorten the life cycle of their products by using cheap components thereby – big profits.

Member

When I watch intelligent American films and documentaries I am often struck by how old-fashioned some of the domestic interiors are and how many old appliances are in use, as well as old cars and vans. I have also noticed this on my occasional visits and from talking to friends who live there. There is more than one America and we should not get too star-struck about the rich life that the manufacturers and marketers want to project. Beneath the surface things aren’t always so wonderful.

Member

And there is more than one side of British life but we seem more influenced by adverts and the fact most of our products are manufactured abroad and our products dont last so long as they did 30/40 years or more ago when we manufactured them . If you have an old Westinghouse product in the States then it is built to last long , as is other US built stuff , until US manufacturers closed the factories down and moved them to all point east of India. Even “the Donald ” brought that up and said he would force them to move back to the States to the shock /horror of the financial industry who are making billions out of it. US infrastructure is crumbling I can quote you 100,s of examples , money goes to the arms industry .

Member

I would like to see a move towards encouraging people to buy mobile phones outright rather than paying for a contract where the monthly payment covers both usage and the one of many payments (often 24) towards the cost of the phone. Towards the end of the contract, the combination of marketing and peer pressure ensures that most people will take out a new contract and acquire a shiny new phone. Not everyone succumbs, of course. Old and unloved phones may be sold, left unused in a drawer or passed on to elderly parents who have yet to discover what a smartphone can do.

Getting back to the topic on the card, I wonder if we can further cut down on use of plastic for bags. ‘Bags for life’ are not as good as they used to be. As far as I am aware they include recycled plastic, which is betrayed by a rougher texture than early versions, and the ones I have compared with early ones were thinner. There are so cheap that some treat them as single use bags.

Member

We have hessian “bags for life”. They’ve lasted well for several years now.

Incidentally, I wonder how many demand free replacement of “bags for life” when they reach their demise?

Member

I have hessian and canvas bags but ‘bags for life’ are useful for carrying around in a coat pocket.

I exchange worn out ‘bags for life’ because I don’t believe that plastic bags are recycled, so should go in the bin for non-recyclable waste. At my previous home that was a black bin and now it is a green one. It beggars belief that councils have not standardised on colour coding. Maybe they have not considered we might get confused when visiting family and friends around the country.

Member

Life’s tough isn’t it? We also have a blue plastic bin (plastics, metal and glass), a plastic box for paper, a small plastic brown bin for food waste and the ubiquitous grey/black plastic bin for general waste. Maybe they were all made out of recycled plastic bags?

We’d be well advised to campaign to reduce unecessary packing and packaging. I’ve had deliveries from online suppliers in hugely oversized cardboard boxed filled with crumpled paper, polystyrene chips, inflated plastic pillows. Why can’t they pack them economically?

Years ago people started making street “furniture” – bollards, seats, waste bins etc – out of recycled plastic waste, featuring PET largely if I remember rightly. They looked (and still do) pretty awful particularly when they tried to simulate wood.

Member

It’s more than tough. Properly segregated waste can be recycled but add in other materials and it soon becomes worthless.

The composition of recycled plastics used for street furniture etc. is often stated as mixed plastics. I have used recycled plastic sheet, equivalent to 19mm plywood and that has survived for years in a damp environment. It is not seen. That was a blend of high density polythene and polypropylene.

Member

I did exchange a ‘bag for life’ once – it was a Sainsbury’s one that had had a hard life and had a few holes in it. They exchanged it willingly. No others have had to be replaced yet but one self-destructed when a purchase with sharp edges ripped slits in it and I hadn’t even got out of the shop. I niftily dropped it into a wire basket in the entrance area and carried it home. I must take the basket back one day.

I have noticed that both Sainsbury’s and M&S [perhaps other too] now supply a much better bag for 5p than the ones they used to issue FOC.

Member

Malcolm – I was told that the oversize packaging is to prevent pilferage in the delivery chain.

I had a delivery by Parcelforce from Screwfix the other day. They use very poor quality cardboard for their boxes and the entire top of the box had been crushed and ripped off. There was no filling material inside and I had to go through the packing list to check that everything ordered was present and correct. The delivery guy was very apologetic. When consignments go through the hubs and depots en route they are carried on conveyors that tip them into drop points or cages and other items land on top of them.

I like the way John Lewis pack deliveries – inside boxes that are then sealed in big strong plastic bags which, if opened carefully, can be reused for a multitude of purposes for storage, in the garden, as waterproof covers, and for DIY jobs.

Member

It’s really about which supermarket is prepared to take the initiative when ethics v competition enter the equation, which led me to research the most ethical of supermarkets.

According to @ ethicalconsumer.org – The Most Ethical Supermarkets – Shopping guide from Ethical Consumer, Booths Supermarkets come top of the list with The Coop second and M&S third. Bottom three are Morrisons, Lidl and Asda. It makes interesting reading.

Member

Just been to my local Tesco to buy loose fruit and been told that even though the government mandatory charge does not apply, Tesco’s policy is to charge for every bag regardless of contents.

Member

Retailers have never been under a legal obligation to provide bags.

Member

Tesco has announced that it is to phase out 5p bags: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/07/tesco-to-end-sales-of-5p-carrier-bags

The original ‘Bags for Life’ were durable but modern ones are thinner and made of recycled plastic and don’t last long, and the ones from other supermarkets seem as bad. I have decent reusable bags for when I go to the supermarket but plastic bags are handy to keep in a coat pocket. I don’t mind if ‘Bags for Life’ cost £1 as long as they are fit for the purpose.

Member

On dry weather days I am using my Sainsbury’s paper carrier bags from the 1970’s. I still have a few left and they attract curiosity at the checkout – even to the extent of other shoppers saying they wish they could still have them. They have proved to be remarkably strong: two of them will take a good load of groceries and provisions but we have to be careful with chilled or frozen food in case condensation wets the paper. The handles are the weakest point otherwise and have a tendency to go at the least convenient moment between the car and the kitchen.

Member

We use the box-shaped jute/hessian bags. They pack better and sit more securely in the car. Had them years now. Just a bit of discipline to remember to take them with us. Perhaps the shop should send a reminder to my phone? 😀

Member

I remember brown paper carrier bags with thin handles that left grooves in your finger joints if you carried heavy ones any distance.

Member

Brown paper bags have adhesive which attracts cockroaches.