Sustainable Energy

Major UK supermarket Morrisons turns to paper bags to reduce plastic use 

Key Points
  • The move is set to prevent 150 million small plastic bags from being used each year, according to Morrisons. 
  • The British supermarket is among a number of large companies, including McDonald's, looking to reduce their use of plastic. 

British retailer Morrisons is to bring back “traditional” brown paper bags for loose fruit and vegetables, the supermarket said Monday.

From today, brown paper bags made from 100 percent recyclable paper are being rolled out in its 493 stores, and will be in all of its shops by the end of summer. The move is set to prevent 150 million small plastic bags from being used each year, Morrisons said.

“We’ve listened to customers concerns about using plastic bags for fruit and vegetables and that is why we are bringing back paper bags,” Drew Kirk, Morrisons’ fruit and veg director, said in a statement. “There’s more work to do, but this step will mean we prevent 150 million bags from being used in our stores every year.”

Earlier this year, Morrisons committed to ensuring that all its own-brand plastic packaging would be compostable, recyclable or reusable by no later than 2025.

The issue of plastic waste is a serious one. Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the European Commission. Less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling.

A large number of major businesses are looking at ways to reduce their use of plastic.

Earlier this month, McDonald’s announced it would move away from using plastic straws in its U.K. and Ireland restaurants. The fast food giant said it would commence a phased rollout of paper straws at all 1,361 of its sites in the two countries. The transition is set to start in September and will be completed by 2019.

In January, U.K. supermarket Iceland, which specializes in frozen food, made a commitment to eliminate plastic packaging from its own brand products by 2023.