Marks & Spencer has become the latest retailer to drop plastic bags in favour of paper because of concerns about the environment.
The new paper bags, rolled out from Friday, will be “super strong” and water resistant, the retailer said.
It follows a series of moves from M&S to replace plastic with paper, including changing the packaging of rice and grains to paper bags and boxes.
M&S trialled its new paper bags across 10 stores in Britain from last December.
The new paper bags, which were designed in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, are capable of being used 100 times, M&S said.
They are water resistant because of a natural resin, and can be recycled at home.
They are also “super strong”, capable of carrying six four-pint bottles of milk.
Solution that avoids plastic
“Today over 70% of M&S customers are now choosing to bring their own bags or don’t use one at all when shopping with us,” M&S said in a statement announcing the move.
“But now they want us to go further and find a solution which avoids plastic for those trips when they do need a bag.
“So, we are taking the latest innovation in M&S Food which moved our popular rice and grains packaging to paper bags and boxes, removing 5.5 million units of plastic, and applying it to our carrier bags.
“From today every store across the UK will offer Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper bags at checkouts.
“The bags are replacing our ecoloop plastic bags for life and sold alongside our range of durable tote bags, and we are introducing a strong, robust bag in Food and a simpler one in Clothing & Home reflecting our different shopping missions.”
Steps taken by other retailers
M&S is not the first retailer to move to offering paper bags in place of plastic.
Boots announced in 2019 that it would phase out all plastic bags by the following year, replacing them with plastic.
This would remove the need for 40 million plastic bags a year, the health and beauty chain said.
Morrisons replaced plastic bags with paper in 2021 after a successful trial.
Other retailers have also cut down on their plastic bag use.
Tesco scrapped the bags for online shopping orders in 2019, while Sainbury’s has removed them from loose fruit and vegetable aisles.