Boots swaps plastic for brown paper bags
24 June 2019, 08:07 | Updated: 24 June 2019, 15:33
Health and beauty retailer Boots is to stop offering plastic bags at some of its checkouts from Monday.
It comes a month after MPs criticised the chain for replacing its paper prescriptions bags with plastic.
The company is now introducing unbleached brown paper bags as standard carriers across 53 stores this week, rolling them out across all 2,485 outlets by early next year.
Boots said the policy change will help remove up to 900 tonnes of plastic from its stores each year.
Seb James, senior vice president and managing director of Boots UK, said: "Plastic waste is undoubtedly one of the most important issues around the world today with TV shows like Blue Planet highlighting the effects of plastic pollution.
"This year, we are transforming Boots as we celebrate 170 years, and the move to unbleached paper bags is another pivotal moment in that journey.
"There is no doubt that our customers expect us to act and this change signifies a huge step away from our reliance on plastic."
Last month, Newbury MP Richard Benyon challenged the beauty and pharmacy chain on its decision to replace paper prescription bags with plastic ones.
Mr Benyon wrote on Twitter: "Why have you gone from paper bags for prescriptions to plastic bags? I mean really WHY??"
He said "several people" had mentioned the issue to him and suggested it would "go down really badly" with customers.
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Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson also weighed in, saying: "Turning from paper to plastic to save costs is not an acceptable way to run a business these days.
"Your customers are rightly livid and baffled."
Last month Boots said the move was "not a cost-saving measure" adding that the 100% recyclable plastic was used for prescriptions dealt with by the chain's centralised pharmacy and accounted for "less than 8% of our total dispensing".
"These bags mean that we can deliver medicines to patients in a way that is safe, clean, dry and durable," it said.
But on Monday it said that recent research of 6,000 Boots customers showed the issue's importance, as 92% were concerned about the number of plastic bags used in the UK and 94% agreed that it was a good idea to move to paper bags.
Customers can purchase a small, medium or large paper carrier bag for 5p, 7p, or 10p.
All profits will be donated to Children in Need to support disadvantaged children across the UK.
(c) Sky News 2019: Boots swaps plastic for brown paper bags