Iceland the latest grocer to bring back paper bags in war on plastic

Iceland paper bag

Iceland has launched a paper bag trial to see if customers are willing to ditch plastic carrier bags at the checkout, as part of the grocer’s wider strategy to reduce its plastic waste.

White paper bags, which the frozen food retailer said are recycled and bio degradable, are being offered to shoppers at its Merseyside stores for 10p.

Plastic carrier bags will also carry a 10p fee to help encourage customers to make the switch to paper.

Should the eight week trial prove successful, paper carrier bags could be rolled out across Iceland’s 800 UK stores.

Iceland managing director Richard Walker said the scheme would give customers the chance to reduce their own plastic waste, as well as help Iceland reduce its plastic output.

“We’re already taking steps to deliver on our commitment to remove plastics, and of course single-use carriers are a significant part of the plastic we have in store, used by our customers every day,” he said.

“The trial will provide us with an in-depth insight into how we can remove single-use carrier bags, while offering an alternative that is fit for purpose and works for our customers.”

The paper bag trial comes after Iceland first pledged in January that it would become the first major retailer in the world to go plastic free, aiming to eliminate plastic packaging form all own-brand items by 2023.

Under its plans, Iceland’s own-brand packing will be replaced by paper, pulp trays and paper bags – all recyclable through domestic waste collection and in-store facilities.

The retailer has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own-label products, as well as announcing its support for a plastic bottle deposit return scheme.

In addition, since the introduction of a 5p levy on single-use plastic bags in 2015, Iceland said customer bag use among its stores had reduced by 80 per cent.

Despite this, it still used three million small carrier bags every week and hopes the paper alternatives could help reduce this quantity.

Other grocery retailers to made plastic waste reduction pledges recently include Waitrose, Tesco and Asda.

Meanwhile, the Co-op has ambitions for 80 per cent of its product packaging to be recyclable by 2020, and Morrisons last week said it would ban single-use plastic bags in fresh produce aisles at all of its stores, offering customers brown paper bags instead.

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  1. Why are they charging for paper, when the whole point was to charge to penalise the use of plastic? We got free bags to take our purchases home in before the plastic scandal, so why charge now for paper?

  2. Primark have been using free paper bags for a couple of years or more, so why can’t other shop follow by example?

  3. Paper bags have been proven to be just as bad for the environment as plastic – deforestation, water use, energy use and transportation emissions, and they give off methane as they decompose in landfill, which is where most of them go

  4. My only concern is that these are going to break quite easily. Most people go into Iceland for their frozen goods, but if these even bately start to defrost in the bag then it will start to get soggy and break. Even Primark bags don’t last a trip around the shopping centre and it’s only clothes in there. I don’t do t at all that this is a great idea for helping the environment, and I support it wholeheartedly, it might not be right for Iceland though.

  5. I hope these paper bags will still be subject the government tax. If they’re not it will be a nice little earner for Iceland!


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