Retailer has eco initiative in the bag

A STAGGERING seven million fewer plastic bags were given away in only three months by an East Anglian retailer thanks to the launch of a green initiative.

A STAGGERING seven million fewer plastic bags were given away in only three months by an East Anglian retailer thanks to the launch of a green initiative.

The East of England Co-op stopped giving free plastic bags in all its food stores and petrol forecourts in September in a bid to reduce the numbers clogging up landfill sites.

Every week since the start of the initiative, half-a-million bags have been saved, equating to a total of seven million in three months.

The figure represents a reduction of around 84 per cent, well ahead of government targets.

Richard Samson, Co-op chief executive, said: “This just shows what can be done through cooperation with our customers.

“We were hoping that we could achieve an ambitious reduction in the order of 75pc to 80pc but with a fantastic effort from our store colleagues right across East Anglia, we've easily beaten that figure.”

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UK retailers hand out an estimated 13 billion free plastic bags every year.

Mr Samson said: “There's no doubt that we could not have achieved such a big reduction in carrier bag usage without the support of our customers, which has been tremendous and our thanks go to them for their co-operation.

“But plastic bags remain a big problem right across the country and although our customers have clearly demonstrated that there's a willingness to tackle the issue right now, it does require a genuine lead from their local supermarket or convenience store operator.”

Ipswich MP Chris Mole added: “I am delighted to see that the East of England Co-op's scheme has been so successful in saving seven million plastic bags across its 135 food stores in our region.

“This kind of direct action from retailers is a great example of how we can all, in our everyday lives, make a difference in the fight against climate change.”

What changes have you made to your lifestyle to become more environmentally friendly? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Leader:

CONGRATULATIONS to the Co-op on the retail giant's stunning efforts to help the environment.

The radical approach to the issuing of plastic bags may have been a minor inconvenience to a handful of shoppers at first, but the company's responsible attitude is reaping huge reward.

To save seven million plastic bags in only three months is a superb effort.

As the credit crunch bites, it is easy for the world of commerce to put on the back-burner any environmental initiatives.

But the Co-op, an East Anglian institution, has stuck to its principals - and delivered on its promise.

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