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06 May 2008

Marks & Spencer Carrier Bag Charge Starts

Marks & Spencer has introduced a 5p charge for its single use food carrier bags in all of its UK stores* today, Tuesday 6th May, and announces the first five ‘greener living spaces’ projects that all profits** will be invested in.

Through the charge, M&S is aiming to:

  • encourage customers to reduce the amount of bags they use by switching from taking single use carrier bags with every purchase to bringing a reusable bag for life with them each time they shop. 
  • raise a significant amount of money for the environmental charity Groundwork to invest in creating or improving ‘greener living spaces’ such as parks, play areas and gardens in neighbourhoods around the UK***.

    The national roll-out of carrier bag charging is a major step towards M&S’ Plan A commitments to aim to reduce carrier bag usage by a third and send no waste to landfill from its operations by 2012.

    All profits raised from the 5p charge will be donated to Groundwork, and to mark the start of the charge, M&S announces today the first five ‘greener living spaces’ projects to be supported through the partnership are located in Scarborough, Nottingham, Wigan, Hammersmith and Edinburgh.

    Sir Stuart Rose, M&S Chief Executive said: “We’re delighted to be able to pledge our support to the first five ‘greener living spaces’ projects. Carrier bag charging works – we know through our trials**** that around 70% of our customers will stop using single use carrier bags and will switch to using our bags for life.

    “However, through our partnership with Groundwork, M&S customers can be assured that if they do need to buy a single use bag, all the profits from their 5p will be invested improving neighbourhoods across the UK.”
    Tony Hawkhead, Groundwork Chief Executive said: “It’s great to be working with M&S on the first five projects. From Edinburgh to Hammersmith, these projects will give children exciting places to play and adults somewhere to meet, relax and exercise. The scheme is a win-win - plastic bag use is dramatically reduced whilst the ‘greener living spaces’ projects improve the local environment for everyone.”

    Over the last month M&S has handed out over 15 million free reusable bags for life, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, to customers across the UK in preparation for the charge. This is the biggest single giveaway of reusable and recyclable bags for life by any retailer. From today, they will revert to their original price of 10p and will be replaced free of charge and recycled by M&S when worn out.

    M&S is also making two additional changes to help reduce the environmental impact of carrier bags even further. From May onwards:

  • M&S customers will be able to return any unwanted or used carrier bags to any till point or customer service desk at M&S stores for recycling.
  • M&S will be the first major UK food retailer to begin to use a new standard food carrier bag made from 100% post consumer waste in all of its stores nation-wide.  This move will reduce the amount of virgin plastic M&S uses by 3,400 tonnes per year.****

    The first five M&S and Groundwork ‘greener living spaces’ projects are:

    In Scotland, Groundwork will work with the charity, the Federation of City Farms and Gardens, to deliver local projects. The first Scottish ‘greener living spaces’ project will be at community managed Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh. Here funds will help to reinvigorate a family play area with new equipment, picnic facilities and an improved pets’ corner.

    Royal Albert Park Children’s Play Area – this greener living spaces project will create a brand new family orientated open space and play area in a stunning seaside location on Scarborough’s North Bay. Money will be invested in new play equipment and natural play features, picnic tables and landscaping.

    Vauxhall Road Play Area – here M&S and Groundwork will turn a currently neglected and derelict play into a new community space for young people and families. The local community has campaigned for several years for funding to transform the space, and M&S’ support will help to make that finally happen.

    The Sunken Garden – currently an underused space that attracts anti-social behaviour, the garden will be given a new lease of life by being raised to ground level. In conjunction with a local artist, a brand new community space will be created with seating and landscaping that will help to install a sense of pride within the area.

    Hammersmith Roof Garden – this project will overhaul an uninspiring and environmentally unfriendly concrete area into a roof top garden to provide an oasis of green within the confines of an urban setting. Vibrant trees and shrubs will provide natural colour all year round as well as a range of habitats for wildlife.


    For more information on M&S, images or interview requests, please contact:
    Clare Wilkes   M&S   0208 718 8642
    Lucy Kelly   M&S   0208 718 1980

    For more information on Groundwork, please contact:
    Daisy Powell    Groundwork  07703 535841

    Notes to Editors

  • *Excluding M&S stores in the South West of England and Northern Ireland where charging is already in place and M&S Outlet stores.
  • ** All of the 1.85p profit from the sale of single use food carrier bags will be donated to Groundwork.
  • ***In Scotland, Groundwork will be working in partnership with the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens to deliver local projects
  • **** M&S has successfully trialled charging for food carrier bags in over 50 M&S stores in Northern Ireland and the South West of England in the last twelve months. The trials resulted in customers’ use of food carrier bags reducing by over 70% and raised over £80,000 for Groundwork. This money is now being invested in six projects across those regions including the development of the Daisy Hill Woodland in Newry, the creation of a play area at the Old Warren Community Centre in Lisburn and improving a green space at Woodhay Road in Plymouth.
  • *****Based on current M&S standard food carrier bag usage. This is in addition to a 3,300 tonne annual saving that M&S made by converting its Bag for Life, clothing and home carrier bags to 100% recycled post consumer waste in April 2007.
  • The 5p charge does not apply to mini food bags and horticultural bags which will be available free of charge on request.
  • In January 2007 M&S announced Plan A, a five-year, 100 point business-wide ‘eco plan’. Under this plan, by 2012 M&S aims to become carbon neutral; send no waste to landfill from its operations; extend sustainable sourcing; set new standards in ethical trading and help customers and employees live a healthier lifestyle.
  • The new M&S 100% recycled post consumer waste food carrier bag has been developed in conjunction with Papier Mettler.
  • See for more information.

    About Groundwork

  • Groundwork is a national charity working with partners to improve the quality of people's lives and the places where they live, work and play. 
  • Groundwork's projects help local people get practically involved in making decisions and managing improvements in their neighbourhood and encourage people to make healthier and greener lifestyle choices. This ranges from working with children and young people to create sports facilities and ‘outdoor classrooms’, to providing training and jobs for the long-term unemployed as they regenerate major areas of derelict or waste ground.
  • Last year Groundwork supported nearly 6,000 projects across the UK supported by central and local government, businesses, charitable trusts and the National Lottery.  As a result of those projects more than 80% of people involved felt their neighbourhood was a better place to live and felt more able to influence decisions affecting their community.
  • Groundwork will use the money raised from the carrier bag charges to support local projects in towns and cities across the UK.
  • See for more information.
  • For more information on the Federation of City Farms and Gardens see

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