Tesco scraps 5p carrier bags for a 10p Bag for Life
As of the 28th August, supermarket giant Tesco has scrapped selling 5p carrier bags from their stores across the UK.
From now on, customers who don’t bring their own bags to Tesco stores, whether it’s for their weekly shop or just popping out for lunch, will be offered a 10p reusable ‘Bag for Life’ as the least expensive alternative.
The move follows a 10 week trial carried out in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich which saw a 25% reduction in bag sales as shoppers were encouraged to either bring their own or take up the 10p option.
Unlike the 5p carrier, the 10p ‘Bag for Life’ is more durable, made from 94% recycled material and will be replaced with a new one for free at any Tesco store if it becomes damaged or unusable.
Clamping down on landfill
Tesco reports that since the introduction in England of the 5p bag tax back in 2015, 1.5bn fewer bags were handed out to customers, but it still sells nearly 700m a year – the most of any major supermarkets in the UK.
It is hoped that the new 10p ‘Bag for Life’ drive will further reduce litter and the number of bags that are sent to landfill.
The money generated from the sales of bags will help to fund Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ campaign, which has already raised over £23m for community projects around the country.
Is there a food poisoning risk?
Despite the positives, there is raised concern that customers re-using the same bags for different types of shopping can increase the risk of potentially deadly food poisoning bacteria being spread.
An estimated 7% of raw chicken packaging from major supermarkets is contaminated with Campylobacter, whilst soil from greens and root vegetables can carry E. coli.
If these bacteria are transmitted onto the inner lining of your ‘Bag for Life’, they can survive for around 48 hours, enough time to contaminate other food stuffs, including packaging and ready to eat food.
These types of infections can be serious even for people with strong immune systems, which is why you should always request a separate bag for raw meat, fish and fruit and vegetables as supermarkets are not required to charge for these.
A 2012 study found that when a similar bag tax was introduced in San Francisco in 2007, emergency rooms saw a spike in treatment for E. coli infections, and a 46% increase in food poisoning related deaths in the first three months of the ban.
Safer 'Bag for Life' advice
The FSA advise shoppers to have one or two separate bags to use only for raw meat and these shouldn’t be used afterwards to carry ready to eat foods. If you do get any spillages or soil on the inside of the bag, then it should be disposed of to avoid bacteria spreading.
Alternatively, a Biomaster antibacterial ‘Bag for Life’ prevents the growth of bacteria on the inner surface, meaning bugs like E. coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella, which can all cause food poisoning, cannot be transferred between shopping trips.
More major supermarkets are opting to stock these, including Marks & Spencer and Morrisons, or you can order your Biomaster ‘Bag for Life’ here.