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Consumers complain over plastic bag use in online grocery deliveries

06 March 2017 - 09:32 by Mike Price

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Ordering groceries online has been popular across the UK for over a decade, but the retail market has changed a lot in this time-frame and customers are now more environmentally conscious than ever.

But a new scandal has emerged surrounding the use of plastic bags as part of the grocery delivery process, with companies including Asda and Sainsbury’s criticised because of how many they are including to package orders, according to the Telegraph.

It is almost two years since the government introduced a 5p fee for each fresh carrier bag taken to transport items home from bricks and mortar stores. But in the world of e-commerce, all of the nation’s major supermarkets apply a standard 40p charge to orders to account for this eco-friendly legislation.

The problem is that many customers have been sharing evidence via social media that retailers are using an excessive amount of plastic bags to fulfil online orders, often bagging items individually rather than maximising the capacity of each carrier.

This so-called loophole means that retailers can often exceed the eight bag limit that the 40p flat rate charge implies, wasting resources in the process.

In one instance, a Sainsbury’s customer received 23 plastic bags as part of their order, while only having paid 40p to cover them.

A spokesperson for the firm said that it offers its customers who order via safe shopping online the opportunity to specify that their food is delivered without plastic bags if they wish. It is also possible for delivery drivers to take any unwanted bags after delivery is completed, avoiding waste.

This is not something that many customers may realise, so it is sensible for supermarkets to spread the message or else risk seeming to be exploiting a loophole in the new law.