APRIL 9, 2009: A new government campaign is focused on reducing the mountain of plastic bags that UK shoppers use and throw away.

The ‘Get a bag habit’ initiative has been launched with the British Retail Consortium and aims to encourage the reuse of carrier bags. Astonishing statistics show that in 2008 alone almost ten billion carrier bags were distributed, which, if laid end to end, would be enough to reach the moon and back – seven times. New research for the campaign indicates that each UK shopper uses an average of more than 160 new carrier bags each year. The average household gets through at least 400 annually, according to the results of a survey. The new campaign follows a pledge by seven leading supermarkets to reach a 50 per cent cut in numbers of bags distributed by the end of May this year. Environment minister Jane Kennedy said retailers and the public had already made great steps in the right direction. ‘I think if we really can ‘get a bag habit’ and remember to reuse our bags, it puts us on the right track to doing even more to reduce the amount of waste we’re sending to landfill.’ The minister stated: ‘We simply can’t continue using the billions of new carrier bags we do every year, it’s such a huge waste and a visible symbol of our throwaway society.’

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