Free bags for shoppers

SHOPPERS in a west Suffolk town were handed free reusable bags after a consignment was ordered in by the area's MP.

SHOPPERS in a west Suffolk town were handed free reusable bags after a consignment was ordered in by the area's MP.

The bags were given out to shoppers in Bury St Edmunds on Saturday by the town's MP David Ruffley who hoped they would use his plain carriers rather than those given out by shops.

He was joined by Richard Rout, who represents Abbeygate ward on St Edmundsbury Borough Council, for his “plastic bag free” day.

As well as giving out his own bags, which he said were made of tough plastic which would last two years, Mr Ruffley and Mr Rout were trying to get retailers to use fewer bags and encourage people to use old carrier bags.

He said: “UK consumers use an estimated 10 billion plastic bags a year - that's a colossal 167 per person per year. They are difficult to recycle and non-biodegradable. Much of this waste could be cut out by using our own cloth carrier bags or so called durable 'bags for life'.

“The 'plastic bag free day' was a fantastic success - we gave out 500 reusable 'green bags' from our stall and a number of the town's retailers also took part. If those people that received a free bag on Saturday continue to use it each week for their shopping, we will have substantially reduced the number of single use plastic bags being used in Bury.

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“This is only the first step in helping to reduce the number of plastic bags we use in Bury and, over the coming months, I hope to do more on this important issue.”

The bags were also given out by Barwells, Laura Ashley, Ley-Lou, Waterstones and Scarlet.

Chrisssy Harrod, president of the town's chamber of commerce and manager of Cornhill Walk, which hosted Mr Ruffley's stall, said: “Bury's retailers don't throw bags at you any more. Slowly but surely we are all getting the message. There was an argument some years ago that retailers needed to give out bags to advertise themselves - but we can't carry on doing that.

“David Ruffley's idea is highlighting what we all need to be doing. We need to get behind him and everybody else because there's still some people who come into town without their own bags. Some shops, such as Marks and Spencer, give out long lasting bags and others, like Principles, have gone down the paper route.”

Some shops, including the tobacconist Lorfords, has introduced charging for plastic bags.

The consignment bought by Mr Ruffley was 500 reusable bags.

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