Supermarket giant Tesco announced this week that shoppers in their stores will no longer be offered a 5p carrier bag from the end of August
The decision comes at the end of a 10 week trial in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich which saw a 25% reduction in bag sales when customers were urged to bring their own bags or buy a 10p reusable bag for life instead.
As such, from August 28th the cheapest option for Tesco customers who don’t bring their own bag to one of the chain’s 2,600 stores will be to buy the 10p bag for life, which is said to be more durable and will be replaced for free if it’s damaged.
The impact of the 5p bag tax
Since the 5p bag tax was introduced in England in 2015 the consensus seems to be that the scheme has been a success with single use bag usage dropping by 85% in the first year, reduced numbers of bags ending up in landfill and on beaches, and around £70million raised for charitable causes.
Despite the positives, there are concerns from hygiene experts that reusing your bags for different types of food stuffs can pose a risk of spreading potentially harmful bacteria, with raw meat packaging one of the main areas of risk.
In particular, Campylobacter, the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK, has been found on the outer packaging of up to 7% of all raw chicken packaging from supermarkets across the UK, which equates to around 9 million trays.
When a similar ban on bags was introduced in San Francisco emergency rooms saw a spike in treatment required for E. coli infections as well as a 46% increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses in the first 3 months of the ban.
How to avoid picking up an illness
FSA guidelines suggest that shoppers should ideally have one or two separate bags to use only for raw meat and these shouldn’t be used afterwards to carry ready to eat foods. If you do get any spillages or soil on the inside of the bag then it should be disposed of to avoid bacteria spreading.
Infections are always unpleasant and those of us with strong immune systems can recover after a short illness or treatment with antibiotics but vulnerable people may be at risk of complications which can even be fatal.
As reusable shopping bags have been identified as an exposure pathway for pathogens, major retailers are captilising on the use of antibacterial bags for life, which are protected with Biomaster antimicrobial technology to reduce the risk of bacteria growing in between shopping trips.
Although these bags are usually sold for more than 10p, a recent independent survey carried out for Addmaster showed over 70% of respondents would be happy to pay more for an antibacterial bag for life.
Biomaster is incredibly easy to incorporate into your existing production process for plastics, coatings, paper and textiles offering effective and long-lasting antimicrobial protection for your product range.
Its powerful silver-based antimicrobial agent means that lower addition rates can be achieved to cut down on costs whilst providing a strong return on investment as well as peace of mind for your customers.