“This year, we are transforming Boots as we celebrate 170 years, and the move to unbleached paper bags is another pivotal moment in that journey.”
UK retail giant Boots has vowed to ditch plastic bags in all of its stores by next year and replace them with paper ones to tackle plastic waste.
The company said that 53 of its stores stopped providing plastic bags at checkouts yesterday and all 2,485 would offer only paper bags from early next year.
Boots (@BootsUK ) will charge customers for the new unbleached brown bags, even though they do not fall under the UK’s plastic bag tax. The recycled brown bags cost 5p, 7p or 10p, depending on size, and the company said that all profits would be donated to the charity BBC Children in Need.
The paper bags will replace plastic bags in 53 Boots stores across the UK, with a full roll out to all 2,485 stores completed by early 2020, and removing more than 900 tonnes of plastic from Boots store operations each year.
Seb James, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director at Boots UK, said: “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.
“This year, we are transforming Boots as we celebrate 170 years, and the move to unbleached paper bags is another pivotal moment in that journey. There is no doubt that our customers expect us to act and this change signifies a huge step away from our reliance on plastic.”
Recent research of 6,000 Boots customers shows how important this issue is to customers; when asked 92% of Boots customers are concerned about the number of plastic bags used in the UK and 94% agree that it is a good idea to move to paper bags.
Helen Normoyle, Director of Marketing of Boots UK, added: “We have seen a significant shift in our customers’ attitudes towards plastics and recycling in recent years – there’s never been a more important time to show our customers that we’re taking action to reduce our impact.
“Our 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 bought their own bags with them when shopping.”
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace welcomed the move, but said the shoppers should also be encouraged to take reusable bags into store.
Greenpeace UK ocean plastic campaigner Louise Edge told the Guardian: “If our oceans had a doctor, what they would order is a drastic cut in the amount of single-use plastic in circulation. So, it’s great to see a major high street brand like Boots listening to public concerns and ditching plastic bags.”
Boots follows a long list of retailers who have also swapped from plastic to paper or compostable bags in recent years.
Earlier this month, supermarket Aldi announced that it was ditching plastic bags in favour of compostable ones in an effort to boost its environmental credentials. Supermarket Co-op has also rolled out compostable bags in some of its stores across the UK. The retailer has specifically targeted areas where local authorities accept the bags as part of their food waste recycling.