Holland & Barrett Bans Plastic Bags

Holland & Barrett health food stores are introducing a total ban on plastic bags from 1 January and calling for a tax on disposable carriers to encourage other retailers to do the same.

As part of its green overhaul, the chain of 539 health stores is replacing plastic bags with paper, jute and cotton bags costing between 4p and 99p each.

"Many retailers have introduced half measures such as charging for plastic bags, to encourage customers to shy away from using them. But no one has stepped up to the mark and banned plastic bags all together, until now. We're the first major retailer to take this stand and I challenge the rest of the high street to follow us and move Britain a step closer to a total bag ban," said chief executive Peter Aldis.

He pointed to the effects of an Irish government crackdown on plastic bags, with a bag tax on retailers there leading to a sharp drop in throwaway carrier use.

"It is rare for a retailer to call for more taxes, but I would encourage the government to follow suit here," said Aldis.

Holland & Barrett customers use 7.6m plastic bags a year and nationwide the UK uses an average of 167 bags per person per year, adding up to 13,000 bags per person over a lifetime, according to the chain.

The retailer has invested in a recycling centre and opted for sea freight over air freight for imported goods.

In 2002, Ireland introduced a 15 euro cents tax (10p) on each plastic bag – the so-called "plastax" – and within months a 90% fall in the number of bags being used had been recorded.

• Holland & Barrett customers use 7.6m plastic bags a year • Usage of plastic bags fell 90% after Ireland introduced a levy

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

Manuel Martinez

Project GreenBag, 2200 Market St, San Francisco, CA, 94114, United States