Iceland has stepped up its efforts to phase out plastic waste with the launch of a new trial to switch to paper carrier bags or re-usable bags made from recycled plastic.

The supermarket giant, which made headlines earlier this year with a pledge to eliminate all plastic packing from its brands by 2023, announced yesterday that it is to trial alternative carrier bags to its current plastic offering.

The trial will run for eight weeks across the Merseyside region and will give customers a choice between a paper carrier bag and a version made from post-consumer plastic waste. Both bags will carry a 10p bag levy in an attempt to encourage customers to use reusable bags wherever possible.

The company said the introduction of the government’s 5p plastic bag levy in 2015 had helped cut the number of plastic bags distributed by 80 per cent, but that meant it was still using three million plastic carrier bags a week.

Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said there was strong customer support for the company’s efforts to tackle plastic waste.

“We have received widespread support since announcing our intention to eradicate plastic packaging and we know that customers support our move to reduce single use plastics,” he said. “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 added that the trial would provide the company 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 move follows the launch of new plastic-free packaging from the company and the unveiling of a new deposit return ‘vending machine’ designed to encourage people to recycle plastic bottles.

However, the switch from plastic to paper bags could spark questions about the carbon footprint of the respective bags and the land use impact of sourcing paper alternatives.

In an emailed statement Iceland confirmed the paper bags were made from sustainably certified paper. “The paper bags are made from paper sourced from Forest and Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests – for every tree harvested, four new trees are planted in its place,” the company said. “The paper bags can also be recycled by customers at home, in the paper and card recycling bin.”

It also confirmed it would be undertaking a carbon footprint assessment of both the paper and plastic bags.

Orginal Source