Co-op eliminates 'bags for life' to avoid plastic waste

Environmental campaigners have raised concerns that ‘bags for life’ are only being used once, before being discarded, contributing to plastic pollution. 

Co-op eliminates 'bags for life' to avoid plastic waste

The Co-operative Group will stop selling ‘bags for life’ which have heavily contributed to plastic waste. Once stocks have ran out across 2,600 stores, the replacement for customers will be compostable bags sold for 10p each. The Group’s latest Co-operate Report states:

“Our analysis of industry data has shown that, in stores that have removed single-use bags from sale, many customers use a Bag for Life only once, which wastes much more plastic than using a single-use bag only once. We believe that the best approach for the environment and for customers is to offer a low-cost compostable bag, as well as offering high quality, really durable reusable bags that will last for years (and can still be recycled).”

Co-op’s decision will eliminate 29.5m bags a year, equating to 870 tonnes of plastic being sold. Earlier this month, Morrisons became the first UK supermarket to entirely remove plastic bags from its stores, instead offering paper ones costing 30p alongside other reusable tote bags. 

A 5p levy on single-use plastic bags was introduced by the government in 2015, which will rise to 10p in May 2021. Reusable bags were intended to replace these altogether, but a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Greenpeace showed that in 2020 UK supermarkets sold enough ‘bags for life’ for every household in Britain to have 57 each. 

Header Image Credit: "Co-op tote bag" by The Co-op Group is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Claire Jenns

Claire Jenns Kickstart Team

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