“Surprising” new figures from packaging giant DS Smith have shown increased sales in paper for use in paper bags as retailers adapt to new attitudes towards single-use plastic.
DS Smith has seen “huge increase” in paper orders to meet consumer demand for recyclable alternatives due to Blue Planet effect.
Last year alone, DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper Mill – the largest paper recycling mill in the UK – supplied enough paper to make around 400 million bags used by major retailers and food takeaway chains.
Across our network our paper contains over 80% recycled content and across the supply chain, from punnets to bags, we are working with customers to find solutions to remove single-use plastics
Furthermore, DS Smith says it continues to see “considerable growth” from customers, with bag manufacturers requiring year on year increases in recycled paper to manufacture bags, with orders increasing by 400% over the past three years.
In addition, DS Smith’s e-commerce packaging site, ePack, has seen an increase of 262% increase in orders of recyclable paper bags in the three months prior to Black Friday.
Ben Jennings, General Manager at DS Smith Paper Mill in Kemsley commented: “Over the past three years, we have seen significant interest in sustainable solutions to a variety of packaging challenges, including the shopping bag.
“Across our network our paper contains over 80% recycled content and across the supply chain, from punnets to bags, we are working with customers to find solutions to remove single-use plastics.”
According to recent studies, the global market for paper bags is booming and is expected to demonstrate further significant growth between now and 2023.
Paper bags require fewer reuses than bags for life to make them more environmentally friendly and have the benefit of being widely recyclable once they reach their end of life, DS Smith says.
But the key to reducing the impact of all carrier bags, DS Smith says, irrespective of what they are made of, is to reuse them as much as possible.
It is the buying and disposing of a bag after single use that will have a bigger environmental impact than choosing to buy a paper, plastic or cotton bag.
Plastic bag levy
According to the most recent figures (July 2019), sales of plastic bags by the seven biggest retailers in England have fallen by 90% since the 5p charge was introduced in 2015.
Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-operative Group, Tesco and Waitrose sold 490 million fewer single-use plastic bags in 2018/19 (549 million) – a drop of almost half on the previous year.
The average person in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, compared with 140 bags in 2014 before the 5p charge was introduced in England.