How You've Been Tricked into Paying Brands to Advertise for Them

How You've Been Tricked into Paying Brands to Advertise for Them

Geraint Clarke

As we all know, in the UK, you have to pay 10p ($0.14) for a bag.

Every retailer is bound by the law to charge for single-use plastic bags.

Before the 5p (now 10p) bag charge was introduced, the average household used around 140 single-use plastic carrier bags a year, and this has now been reduced to four, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

This initiative has seen a 95% reduction in single-use carrier bags.

Environmentally speaking, this is fantastic news.

Now a man or woman of science would argue that the availability of single-use plastic bags has decreased due to supermarkets promoting 'bags for life' instead.

Thus making it an unfair statistic - but let's not quibble.

The reason for bringing this up is that last week:

  • I bought something from Zara and was charged 10p for a paper bag.
  • My girlfriend bought something from Boots and was charged 10p for a paper bag.

Both were heavily branded bags. 100%, not plastic.

As the rules state:

"There's no minimum charge for paper bags in England and Wales."

This means retailers, who used to give free bags through way of advertising - because you're carrying around an obvious handheld billboard all day for others to see... are now charging you for the privilege of doing so.

It's being snuck in under the social conformity of governmental efforts to 'save the planet'. Something we're all quite happy to do.

But now the bag has become a SKU, not just the thing that holds it.

This benefits retailers in two ways:

  1. Net positive, zero-cost advertising of their brand - from you.
  2. Maximising profits instead of working 'packaging' into the cost of the items.

The worst thing is, it does nothing for the planet. They aren't legally obligated to report or donate this extra revenue.