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CPI welcomes the move by Morrisons supermarket to introduce 100% recyclable paper bags for loose fruit and veg in place of plastic bags.

CPI notes that there has been some comment around an existing Environment Agency report entitled EA Life Cycle assessment of supermarket carrier bags: a review of the bags available in 2006.

This, now somewhat dated report, did not consider the introduction of a carrier bag tax, the effects of littering on land or in marine environments, the ability and willingness of consumers to change behaviours or any adverse impacts of degradable polymers in the recycling stream. It also considered regular carrier sized bags, rather than these small lightweight bags to contain loose fruit and veg. We also note that Life Cycle Analysis methodology has advanced considerably in recent years.

The report did, however, note that the global warming potential of the paper bag was lower than the HDPE bag in three of four studies when compared by material weight (the EA study, ExcelPlas Australia et al. 2004; Ecobilian PwC 2005 and Murphy et al. 2009).

CPI recognises that in 2018, UK consumers are now acutely aware that discarded plastic bags are commonly found in rivers, seas and on land, proving to be an ever-present danger to birds, animals and marine life. Even in landfill, they can take hundreds of years to break down.

Given that more and more consumers are seeking sustainable solutions to all manner of products and packaging, it is now more likely that they will seek to choose and reuse paper bags where possible and take advantage of the localised collection systems in place to ensure they are recycled at the optimum moment.

Compared with plastic bags, the use of paper bags, particularly from renewable, recyclable resources, has many advantages for the environment, as they are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.

Paper mills continue to focus on energy efficiency, and after allowing for changes in production levels, the figures show that the amount of EUETS-reported carbon dioxide emitted by UK paper mills (per tonne of production) continues to fall – by around a third in just ten years.

Notes to Editors

  • The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling.

  • CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £6.5 billion, 25,000 direct and more than 100,000 indirect employees.

  • Click here for facts on the UK’s Paper-based Industries







......© Confederation of Paper Industries, 1 Rivenhall Road, Swindon, Wiltshire SN5 7BD