It’s not exactly uncommon knowledge that charging 5p for a carrier bag caused widespread surprise and, in some cases, outrage across the UK when it was introduced in October 2015. However, despite some disruption and complaints among steadfast believers in free bags, the scheme has seen widespread success.
Tesco alone has found that, since the introduction of the charge, they have sold 1.5bn carrier bags less. The move hasn’t just worked in store, as 50% of those choosing home delivery actually decide to have their groceries arrive loose, instead of in bags. The money raised from those bags still sold has been donated to charity and so far Tesco has donated £33m to 6,400 charitable groups across the UK.
However, there is still a long road ahead as Tesco says they have still sold roughly 700m bags in the same time frame. Tesco has decided to take things a step further and change up their plans, possibly due to the fact that they are the largest remaining seller of plastic bags out of the big supermarket chains.
Introducing the 10p charge
For those of you angry at the introduction of the 5p charge, try and stay calm as you find out that Tesco is now opting for an abolition of the 5p charge and the introduction of the 10p charge instead. The move isn’t a simple way to increase revenue, the opposite in fact. The 10p charge will now be for a more robust bag-for-life, which is of better quality and durability than a single-use 5p bag. They have pledged that each time you need a new 10p bag, you simply bring the old one in and they will change it free of charge.
What are others saying?
Thérèse Coffey, the UK’s Environmental Minister, is welcoming this change by Tesco and is pleased that the supermarkets are continuing to show initiative and take matters into their own hands. Across the retail spectrum, we have seen 500m plastic bags used in the first 6 months after the introduction of the 5p charge, but in the year prior we saw 7bn bags sold. Continuing this downward trend is fantastic in reducing global use of and disposal of harmful plastics.
The only question, of course, is whether that extra 5p is enough to further motivate UK consumers and change their buying habits. Though at the same time, there were a lot of sceptics who questioned the usefulness of even a 5p charge and who thought that the cost was too small to bring about any kind of change in the way we buy bags. However, they have been proved wrong already and hopefully sceptics will be further proved wrong by this move by Tesco. The change is due to come into effect on Monday 28th August.