The combination of consumer environmentalism with retailer cost-cutting is having the expected major impact on the UK’s use of plastic bags. All the big supermarkets have been running campaigns to reduce the use of these. Some, like Marks & Spencer, now charge 5p a bag. Others, such as Sainsbury’s, send texts to remind customers to bring their own bags.
Customers love it. They feel they are doing their bit for the environment. Supermarkets love it even more, as they save the cost of the bag. M&S has cut usage by 80%. Tesco used 1.8bn fewer bags last year. The losers, of course, are the polyethylene producers – yet another bit of lost demand, in what had been a very stable market.