IKEA Saves 100 Million Plastic Bags Since 2006

In support of the Daily Mail's campaign to ban the use of all single-use disposable plastic bags, IKEA UK have announced that a total of 100 million plastic bags have been saved since first launching a 10p charge in June 2006 and then a complete phasing out of plastic bags in July 2007.

Every year an estimated 17.5 billion plastic bags are given away. This is equivalent to over 290 bags for every person in the UK. Most of these bags never get a second use – they get thrown straight into the rubbish bin and have a high social and financial cost attached to them.

In 2005 IKEA UK gave away 32 million bags. Laid out, they would stretch 19,200 kilometres, or the equivalent of a return journey from London to Tokyo.

After a successful two year trial in its Edinburgh store, on World Environment Day in June 2006, IKEA UK announced it was to stop offering free plastic carrier bags to customers introducing a 10p charge for them. All money raised by the charge of plastic bags was to be donated to the organisation ‘Community Forests'. It was part of a three step initiative that included changing the material of standard plastic bags to a biodegradable material and encouraging customers to use reusable bags by reducing the cost of the iconic ‘big blue bag'.

It was estimated that this would reduce plastic bag consumption in IKEA UK stores by 20 million to 12 million bags a year. However, pricing plastic bags at 10p saw a 95% reduction in use to just 1.6 million a year – much higher than ever expected. As a result IKEA UK took the decision that plastic bags were no longer needed and completely removed plastic bags from all stores throughout the UK in July 2007.

Charlie Brown, IKEA UK Environment Manager, said:

"It's fantastic to see other retailers taking such positive steps to minimise plastic bag usage. Our role as retailers is to help customers make small changes that will reduce their environmental impact. Together we have a huge opportunity to make a real difference."

The phase out of single-use plastic bags follows far-reaching steps already taken by IKEA to reduce energy consumption, cut emissions and to source products from sustainable suppliers.