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Britain's major supermarket to eliminate single-use plastic bags by 2023

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-09-23 14:44
The Co-op said that all its own-brand packaging will become easy to recycle by 2023.[Photo/Reuters]

LONDON -- Britain's major supermarket the Co-op announced Saturday that it will ban single-use plastics by 2023 in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.

"The price of food wrapped in plastic has become too much to swallow and, from today, the Co-op will phase out any packaging which cannot be reused," Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive of the Co-op, said in a statement.

"The first step to remove single-use plastic, will be to launch compostable carrier bags in our stores. They are a simple but ingenious way to provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic shopping bags," she added.

The move will see around 60 million plastic carrier bags removed in a phased rollout, the statement said.

Lightweight compostable bags, which can be used to carry shopping home and then be re-used as food waste caddy liners, will be introduced within weeks to almost 1,400 stores across England, Scotland and Wales, and then to all its 2,600 shops, the statement added.

The Co-op said that all its own-brand packaging will become easy to recycle by 2023. It has also promised to use a minimum of 50 percent recycled plastic in bottles, pots, trays and punnets by 2021.

The seven biggest supermarkets in England have recorded an 86 percent drop in plastic bag sales since a compulsory charge of 5 pence ($0.07) was introduced by the government, according to figures released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in July.

Britain is among many countries across the world that have announced bans or restrictions on single-use plastics as plastic pollution has become a global crisis.

The governor of the U.S. state of California signed a bill Thursday that prohibits full-service restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws. It also makes California the first state in the country to do so.

In September 2017, Seattle became the first major U.S. city to ban plastic straws, followed by San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Malibu and other cities.

New Zealand and Chile have also announced bans on single-use plastic bags recently.

Roughly 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped in the world's oceans each year, causing harm to marine life, according to a study by the University of Georgia in 2015.

Scientists have also been concerned about possible long-term impacts of tiny pieces of plastic on human health through the food chain.

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