Retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced a new eco-shopping bag that it said will help prevent waste and reduce poverty among people living in Haiti and the Philippines.
Launching in stores today (6 November), the re-usable bag is made from 75% social plastic, which is plastic waste that has been collected and recycled by Plastic Bank, a social enterprise that aims to stop ocean plastic pollution.
Plastic Bank incentivises people in Haiti and the Philippines to collect waste and take it to one of 36 recycling centres in return for a wage. Collectors can alternatively exchange waste plastic for digital tokens that can be used to buy goods.
Support from businesses like M&S allow Plastic Bank to roll-out the initiative to more destinations quicker.
Plastic Bank chief executive David Katz said: “M&S has powerfully responded to customer demand for sustainable products and created an immediate impact on the lives of our collectors. The M&S team has been incredibly committed to our partnership and thanks to their support, Plastic Bank is empowered to stop more ocean plastic, help more people out of poverty and make responsible production the standard for businesses everywhere. We couldn’t be more pleased to start our journey together.”
Recycling centres in Manila sort the plastic by type and colour and shred it to create flakes, which are then exported to Vietnam, where the M&S bag is made.
According to Plastic Bank, it has already recycled the equivalent of over 100 million plastic bottles since opening its first centre in Haiti in 2014.
This bag has been introduced as part of M&S’s Plastics Plan, which includes removing 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging in less than a year and replacing the 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in its stores annually with FSC certified wood alternatives.
M&S product developer Natalie Tate said: “With more plastic than fish predicted to be in the ocean by 2050, it’s vital that we all take action to minimise plastic waste. We’re reducing the amount of plastic we use as a business and developing smart ways to help our customers reduce the amount of plastic they use.
“This is a strong, sturdy, practical bag to help our customers with their shop, but with the added benefit of reducing poverty and preventing more plastic getting into our seas by turning waste plastic into a tangible and re-usable item.”
The bag costs £1.30 and will be available across UK stores.