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Supermarkets nudge shoppers away from single-use plastic bags

Single use plastic bags now cost 10p at Gibraltar’s two main supermarkets, Morrisons and Eroski.

Eroski increased the price over last weekend from 5p to 10p. A notice placed by the tills in the supermarkets stated the environment was the reason behind the move.

It is hoped that the increase would encourage customer to “use reusable bags and thereby reduce waste,” said Eroski manager Mark Pecino.

To offset the increase and to encourage customers to switch to reusable bags, Eroski reduced the price of these from 57p to 30p per bag.

Mr Pecino confirmed that in doing so the company is actually making a loss on the sale of each bag, but it was a loss Eroski was willing to suffer if it meant people would reduce their usage of single use plastic bags.

Customers have already taken up Eroski on their offer on reusable bags with Mr Pecino stating that an order placed for more bags was “significantly” higher than usual.

Morrisons increased the cost of their single use plastic bags to 10p from 5p last month, to reflect the recent budget changes. The supermarket gave the proceeds from the 5p sales to charity.
To ensure this was not reduced it initially increased the price to 15p.

However, customers were not happy with the increase to 15p.

"We listened to our customers and reduced the bags to 10p,” a Morrisons spokesperson said.

In a bid to encourage shoppers away from single use plastic, Morrisons replace its “bags for life for our customers if they are broken.”

The store yesterday confirmed that the cost of its bags for life are 35p.

Lewis Stagnetto a marine biologist with The Nautilus Project reacting to the news said: “The supermarkets’ move to increase the price of single use plastic bags was to be expected based on the latest announcements by Minister Cortes in his Budget address.”

“Whilst this move will clearly decrease the use of single use plastic bags it will not eliminate it outright. It is a positive first step but both Government and businesses need to go much further,” he added.

Mr Stagnetto feels strongly that businesses need to recognise their contribution to global marine plastic pollution and stop supplying these onetime use products.

“In an ideal scenario, the Government would ban single use plastic outright whilst promoting sustainable, biodegradable alternatives,” he said.

“The Nautilus Project have been raising awareness of these pollution issues for almost a year now; at the time we would have been global leaders in this initiative. Lamentably though, time is passing and we are quickly getting left behind,” he added.

Last year, the Minister for Environment Dr John Cortes said, “People should try and not use plastic bags and certainly minimise their use voluntarily right away - as many have already done - while Government develops the best ways to ensure this happens.”

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