Plastic reduction claims exaggerated admits Tesco

UK supermarket chain Tesco's claim to have more than halved the number of plastic bags it hands out to customers have proved false. The supermarket said last month that its customers are now using less than 50 per cent of the bags they used earlier.

On the same day that Tesco made the statement, supermarkets had announced they had reduced the number of bags given to shoppers by 48 per cent.

The figures were touted as a great victory for the Daily Mail's 'Banish The Bags' campaign, which aimed at reducing the 'plastic blight' that has hit cities, countryside and waterways.

However, Tesco had to yesterday admit that its calculations were not in line with the official statistics and rather than reflecting the reduced numbers its figures had been adjusted to factor in the growth in the number of customers and stores.

According to a senior source at Tesco the true reduction has been significantly lower than the 50 per cent claimed and the real numbers had not be released due concerns over negative publicity.

The British government has said it would consider a ban on free disposable bags and encourage reusable alternatives if supermarkets do not demonstrate enough progress in cutting their use. Meanwhile environment secretary Hilary Benn has called on supermarkets including Tesco to be more honest in their claims on the number of bags they are issuing.