Supermarket Trial of US-style Paper Bags

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) welcomes the move by Morrisons supermarket to trial large paper bags that can be reused by shoppers and which are fully recyclable.

Whilst CPI understands that the trial is in just eight stores and that consumers will be charged 20p per paper bag, it will be interesting to see how many shoppers take advantage of this opportunity. We hope that shoppers that use these stores take advantage of the trial and go on to use the bags on multiple occasions before placing them into a recycling container for collection from their home.

UK consumers are increasingly aware that discarded plastic bags, the majority of which are still being made from Polyethylene (which is made from oil), are commonly found in rivers, seas and on land, proving to be an ever-present danger to birds, animals and marine life. Even in landfill, they can take hundreds of years to break down.

Compared with plastic bags, the use of paper bags, particularly from renewable, recyclable resources, has many advantages for the environment, as they are biodegradable, compostable and recyclable.


Paper mills continue to focus on energy efficiency, and after allowing for changes in production levels, the figures show that the amount of EUETS-reported carbon dioxide emitted by UK paper mills (per tonne of production) continues to fall – by around a third in just ten years.

CPI has launched a project called Our Paper, designed to help councils improve the level of paper and card they collect from households for recycling – see

There is an Environment Agency report entitled EA Life Cycle assessment of supermarket carrier bags: a review of the bags available in 2006. This report noted that the global warming potential of the paper bag was lower than a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bag in three of four studies when compared by material weight (the EA study, ExcelPlas Australia et al. 2004; Ecobilian PwC 2005 and Murphy et al. 2009).

  • The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling.
  • CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £11.5 billion, with 56,000 direct and a further 86,000 indirect employees.