April 6, 2009 / 11:04 PM / 10 years ago

Plastic bag campaign launched

A shopper carries his bags from the checkout as he leaves the Tesco store in Gorton, Manchester, January 13, 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble

LONDON (Reuters) - The government launched a campaign on Tuesday to get the public to reuse carrier bags, saying each shopper got through 13,000 bags in a lifetime.

“We simply can’t continue using the billions of new plastic bags we do each year, it’s such a huge waste and a visible symbol of our throwaway society,” said Environment Minister Jane Kennedy.

A survey found that an average shopper uses more than 160 new carrier bags every year, with 9.9 billion new bags distributed in 2008 alone, the government said.

Last year Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned retailers to take action on the issue or the government would force them to charge shoppers for their bags.

The new “Get a bag habit” campaign, backed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), aims to encourage people to reuse their bags and comes after a commitment from the seven leading supermarkets to reach a 50 percent cut in the number given out by this May.

“Customers have already done a great deal to help us reduce the number of carrier bags issued each year by over a quarter,” said Jane Milne, BRC Business Environment Director.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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