Co-op shows the way to recycle

FOLLOW our lead - that is the message from the East of England Co-Operative Society as shout about their success in reducing the usage of plastic carrier bags.

FOLLOW our lead - that is the message from the East of England Co-Operative Society as shout about their success in reducing the usage of plastic carrier bags.

It has emerged that the major supermarket chains have failed to hit the voluntary target of a 50 per cent cut in plastic carrier bags given out in store compared with 2006 figures.

The Society, which is the largest independent retailer in East Anglia, is calling on other food retailers to stop giving away free carrier bags after they took action and stopped providing them free of charge in its portfolio of 140 food stores, supermarkets and petrol stations in September last year.

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.

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“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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