The PR war on plastic continues with the news that supermarket chain Morrisons is jacking up the prices of its reusable plastic bags to 15p, and introducing paper bags for 20p.
The scheme is only a trial for now, running for two months across eight stores. Morrisons says it’s because their customers’ number one concern about the environment is the use of plastic, but paper bags might not be the solution people think they are.
The BBC points out that making a paper bag uses more energy and causes more carbon dioxide emissions than a plastic one, and quotes fancypants supermarket Waitrose as saying “it can take three times more energy to make a paper bag than a plastic one.” Probably for the best that Waitrose isn’t introducing them yet — if it’s 20p at Morrisons it’ll be both kidneys and a leg there.
On the bright side, Morrisons’ paper bags will cease to exist far quicker than the plastic equivalent. Plastic hangs around essentially forever and gets all up in fishes’ business, whereas paper turns to mush the second it rains. Hopefully not while you’re carrying your stuff home.
Pob Michael Gove is currently consulting on whether we should further push up the price of plastic bags, presumably before putting gory pictures of dead marine life on them cigarette-packet style. Because as we all know, smoking died out immediately when that happened.
The Morrisons paper bag will be more like the ones you see in US grocery stores, with handles. The supermarket already introduced paper bags for fruit and veg last year, and has been getting rid of plastic wrapping on things like cucumbers and flower bouquets.
Obviously, the long-term solution here is for people to remember to bring some of the 50 useless conference-branded tote bags they have at home to the shops with them, but that’s even less likely than a paper bag handle staying intact.
Main image: grassrootsgroundswell via Flickr CC