Britain’s high street health and beauty chain Boots will be banning all plastic bags from stores by 2020, and will instead replace them with unbleached brown paper bags.
The switch to paper bags, which are easily recyclable, will reportedly remove 40 million plastic bags from use every year — about 900 tonnes of single-use plastic, according to the retailer.
The phase out began on Monday, with 53 stores across the UK no longer offering plastic bags in cities including Nottingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Bristol, London, Cardiff, Exeter, Oxford, Leeds, Belfast, Aberdeen, and more.
By early next year, the plan is to have rolled out the initiative across all 2,485 outlets.
Customers will still be charged for the bags, even though they don’t come under the plastic bag tax. But profits from the sale of bags will be donated to BBC Children in Need.
Today, @BootsUK become the first national health and beauty retailer in the UK to move to paper carrier bags as standard. 👜— BBC Children in Need (@BBCCiN) June 24, 2019
All profits from the bags go to us here at BBC Children in Need. 😍🙌 pic.twitter.com/jueTN8Ws1E
Bags will reportedly cost either 5p, 7p, or 10p, depending on size.
“Plastic waste is undoubtedly one of the most important issues around the world today, with TV shows like Blue Planet highlighting the effects of plastic pollution,” said Boots Managing Director Sebastian James. “The move to unbleached paper bags is another pivotal moment in that journey.”
He added that there is “no doubt” that Boots customers “expect us to act and this change signifies a huge step away from our reliance on plastic.”
The announcement follows a recent survey of Boots customers, conducted by Verve, that found 92% were concerned about the issue of plastic bags.
Meanwhile, 94% of respondents agreed that moving to paper bags would be a step in the right direction
According to Helen Normoyle, director of marketing at Boots, the new paper bags have been “carefully tested to make sure that, over their entire lifecycle, they are better for the environment whilst still being a sturdy, practical option for customers who haven’t brought their own bags with them when shopping.”
Boots is one of the dozens of companies that signed up tho the UK Plastics Pact in 2018 — a voluntary pledge from businesses to help reduce single-use plastics by 2025. Each signatory pledged to:
- Make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable
- Eliminate difficult or unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through redesign, innovation, or alternative delivery models
- Make sure 70% of plastic packaging is effectively recycled or composted
- 30% of all plastic packaging to include recycled material
Combined, those that signed the pact in April 2018 were at the time responsibile for 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold in UK supermarkets.
In 2014, the year before the plastic bag tax was introduced, more than 7.6 billion single-use plastic bags were reportedly given out to customers in Britain — about 140 bags per person.
By July 2018, that had fallen by an estimated 86%, down to just over a billion in 2017-2018.