Asda to ditch 5p single-use plastic bags - and reduce plastics in own-brand products

Asda has followed Tesco in ditching single-use plastic bags (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Asda is to ditch single-use 5p plastic bags by the end of the year as it bids to reduce waste.

The supermarket chain also says it plans scrap plastic cutlery and cups from its cafes and offices and replace them with cheap reusable cups.

It has pledged to reduce the use of plastics in its own brand products by 10% as it seeks to do its bit to tackle the UK’s reliance on non-recyclable plastics.

MORE: UK’s shopkeepers welcome moves to extend 5p plastic bag levy

“I truly believe that when you serve 18 million people each week and have the ability to make a difference to them, you should do it,” said Roger Burnley, Asda’s president and chief executive.

“So we have challenged ourselves to look at what more we can do to reduce the amount of plastic in our business, and within our industry as a whole.”

David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II again highlighted the damage plastic can do on ocean wildlife (BBC)

Tesco announced last year that it was ditching 5p plastic bags, meaning customers would have to bring their own bags or buy one of the “bags for life” alternatives on sale in store.

MORE: May pledges to cut all avoidable plastic waste by 2042

The 5p bag “tax” introduced in 2015 saw 9 billion fewer single-use bags used by shoppers.

But TV shows such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II highlighted just how much plastic continues to find its way into the eco system.

Prime minister Theresa May announced in January a new war on plastic with a 25-year plan to deal with Britain’s throwaway culture.

As part of that, Britain’s army of corner shops – previously exempt from the 5p levy – will have to charge customers.

MORE: Tesco bins 5p plastic carrier bags forever – now you’ll have to get a bag for life

Asda will make a donation to charity for each ‘bag for life’ sold (Asda)

Asda’s Burnley added: “Our logic is to remove plastic wherever we can, and where it is required, to make it as recyclable as possible.

“It’s a balance between avoiding plastic where we can but recognising that, currently, there are instances where some plastic is necessary to make sure our products reach our customers in the best condition, to avoid waste and have a smaller environmental footprint than the alternatives.”

Among the Asda initiatives are:

  • Changing the polystyrene bases in our pizzas to cardboard, removing 178 tonnes of plastic from customers’ homes
  • Switching the 2.4 million plastic straws used in its cafes each year to paper
  • Changing coloured drinks bottles to clear plastic, allowing 500 more tonnes of plastic to be recycled
  • Removing all single use cups and plastic cutlery from its offices in 2018 and all its stores and cafes by the end of 2019
  • Phasing out 5p ‘single use’ carrier bags from its shops by the end of 2018
  • Introducing a donation to good causes from the sale of its “bags for life” so that charities don’t lose out
  • Setting up the Plastic Unwrapped Ideas Hub, open to all from industry to individuals, offering a £10,000 award for every scaleable, workable idea that helps Asda tackle its plastic challenges