Marks & Spencer pledges £3m of 5p carrier bag charges to clean-up Britain's beaches
Last updated at 10:09 AM on 7th June 2011
Clean-up: Marks & Spencer has pledged £3m to help remove litter from Britain's beaches
Millions of pounds raised from plastic bag charges are to be spent cleaning up Britain’s beaches and supporting threatened species such as turtles and dolphins.
Marks & Spencer is pledging £3million to the cause, which will also include a schools education campaign.
The chain was the first high street name to apply a 5p charge to food carrier bags to encourage a switch to green alternatives.
It has slashed the number of ‘plastic poison’ carriers it gives out by more than 80 per cent – down from 464million a year to 89million.
The vast majority of the 10billion bags issued by UK stores each year have a useful lifespan of just 20 minutes before they are thrown out. Most end up in landfill where they take up to 1,000 years to rot away, while others are discarded to blight streets, the countryside and beaches.
Charges have been a huge success in reducing bag numbers across the world, including Ireland, Italy, China and cities in India and the U.S.
Wales is to introduce a 5p charge on throwaway bags across all retailers from October, with other parts of the UK expected to follow suit.
The M&S initiative is the latest development in the Daily Mail’s Banish the Bags campaign, which has won support from shoppers, environmental groups, charities and politicians from all parties.
The money will go to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the WWF and an education programme to inspire 400,000 primary school pupils to learn more about protecting fish stocks.
The MCS will carry out a national beach-cleaning event twice a year, once in the autumn and then again in the spring to clear plastic bags and other litter.
WWF will use its share of the money on projects that help better manage UK fish stocks, such as cod, and protect important species such as dolphins and turtles.
Huge success: Since becoming the first store to introduce charging, M&S has seen the number of bags issued drop by 80 per cent
Some 20 per cent of the cash will support the ‘School of Fish’, providing educational materials for schools on the oceans with the help of the National School Partnership.
MCS director Samantha Fanshawe said: ‘We aim to inspire over 50,000 customers to become champions of the sea, and take action to reduce litter on our beaches, choose sustainable seafood and learn more about the amazing wildlife around our coast.’
Dax Lovegrove, of WWF, said: ‘We are continually working to address the over-use of natural resources by championing best practice in the sourcing of goods and driving sustainable retailing.’
He said the proceeds from bag charges ‘will be vital in helping us to address threats to endangered marine species’.
Marks & Spencer calls its new initiative Forever Fish. Chief executive Marc Bolland said: ‘We will work together with our customers, our people and their children to promote a healthy future for our beaches, seas and fish.
‘Forever Fish involves schools, charities, fishermen and fisheries so we can all enjoy cleaner beaches, more sustainable fishing and healthy fish.’
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"Won support from shoppers"? Not round 'ere mate. We need carrier bags of decent quality. If M&S really want to save the planet then it should use its financial muscle to push bag manufacturers into making properly biodegradable ones. After all it is in the interests of M&S to get more customers using more bags, it means they spend more. So stop this customer bashing charade and do the job properly.
- Jimbo, Lincolnshire UK, 07/6/2011 16:34
Yeah right, charging for bags will save the planet. It's a fact that if they made the bags from brown paper it wouldn't matter as it would bio degrade. Of course this would cost significantly more than the cheap plastic ones. So, they charge 5p for the plastic ones and somehow this is saving the world? get real - it's all about profits. If they really cared you wouldn't get plastic bags at all and you could get paper ones.
- AA, Herts, 07/6/2011 16:33
there are a million unemployed who should be taken for a week end by the sea. pick up a few things each...then take them back home to throw on their own streets
- JOHN, cambridge, 07/6/2011 15:44
I live in China and for year the Government have been making shops charge for plastic bags, so most of the retailers here now provide paper ones. M&S here themselves do very strong paper bags with a cord handle, so it is feasible for them to replace their plastic bags in the UK with paper ones!
- Hannah , Essex via Shanghai, 07/6/2011 15:17
Drives me mad faffing about with bags, do you want bags YES, i recyle them, i use them, i do not throw them on the street, while watching endless plastic coming down the conveyor belt. like fox hunting its a way to make us feel that we are doing something important and useful. whilst diverting us from real issues or real eco problems. I would rather they work on thier own plastic in their packaging which is exessive than charge us for a plastic bag. It was the supermarkets that introduced bags in the first place, my mum used to shop with a basket. I would prefer the supermarkets to sort out their own plastic first, their suppliers etc and then start charging us. How can anyone honeslty feel they are saving the planet when they buy food in tons of plastic!
- liz bookes, maidstone, 07/6/2011 15:02
Hmmm.....................I do not support M&S charging 5p for bags - you are paying twice over and most tear. The £3m would do more good if they put there prices down as most are now extortionate & they trained their staff better.
- Me, Here, 07/6/2011 14:52
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