Fifteen months on from the 5p ‘Bag Tax’, almost three-quarters of the UK’s shoppers say they would pay a premium for an antimicrobial ‘bag for life’, according to an independent survey.
Since the charge was introduced in October 2015, two thirds of people (65%) no longer buy single-use carrier bags when doing their shopping at the supermarkets, but they are putting their health at risk by re-using their old bags to carry more items than just food.
Amongst the most unusual things people admit putting in their shopping bag include a baby seagull, soiled nappies, tropical fish, the contents from a vacuum cleaner and ‘something illegal’.
The consumer survey shows that nearly three quarters (73%) never clean their reusable shopping bag after using it to carry food, and a third of us don’t bother sanitising our hands after shopping.
Many people are unaware that re-usable bags can be a refuge for all kinds of bacteria. Campylobacter, the biggest cause of food poisoning in the UK, can last for up to 8 weeks on the lining of a reusable shopping bag. Around half of people surveyed have never heard of Campylobacter.
9 out of 10 people do not know that you can buy a high street ‘Bag for Life’ containing technology that will reduce the risk of cross-contamination from harmful bacteria, but 93% of shoppers said would consider using one, and 71% said they would be happy to pay more for one.
In summary, the key findings are:
- 65% of shoppers no longer use any bags when doing their shopping at the supermarkets. Only 23% buy one or two bags when visiting the supermarket.
- 51% reuse a shopping bag more than 11 times. The average number of times is eight.
- 34% would never think of sanitising their hands after shopping.
- Nearly three quarters (73%) do not clean their reusable shopping bag after using it to carry food
- Nearly two thirds of people (65%) do not use separate bags for different food items. However for those that did use different bags it was for meat and frozen goods.
- Over three quarters (77%) of people surveyed use reusable shopping bags for more than just a food shop.
- The top four things people use reusable shopping bags for are rubbish (39%), shoes (38%), toiletries (38%) and packed lunch (34%).
- Half of people would never use a bag that previously carried the following, fresh beef, fresh chicken, pre-cooked meat, fresh lamb or fresh pork.
- 42% of people said they would reuse a bag that carried pre-cooked meat. Across the board around a third of people would reuse a bag that had carried fresh meat (34%).
- Over half of people surveyed (52%) did not know what Campylobacter is and 48% have never heard it mentioned.
- 93% of people would use or consider using a bag with antimicrobial properties, and 71% said they would be happy to more for one.
- Nearly three quarters (71%) would pay or consider paying for an antimicrobial bag.
- Women are slightly better at reusing shopping bags with an average of 8 times of reuse compared to 7 times of reuse with men.
- Men (39%) are less likely to wash their hands after they have been shopping than women (28%).
- Women (81%) are more likely to try to reuse bags for more than just a food shop.
- Women are more likely to know what Campylobacter it is (51%) compared to men (45%)
- Those aged 55+ came out on top when knowing what Campylobacter is (58%), amongst 18-24 years old less than a third knowing (31%) knew what it was.
- 18-24 year olds come out on top for those that have heard of Bags for Life with antimicrobial properties (20%), whereas only 1 in 10 people over 55 have heard of them (10%). 35-44 year olds are the worst with only 6% knowing what they are.
- 100% of 35-44 year olds would use a bag with antimicrobial properties. 18-24 year olds were the most reluctant with 13% saying they would not use one.
- People in Yorkshire and Humberside are the best at remembering to take their bags for life to the supermarket (69%).
- People in East Anglia (6%) are the most likely to wash their shopping bag after using it and people in Northern Ireland are most likely to wash their bag on a regular occasion (39%).
- People in the East Midlands are the most likely to carry different food groups in different reusable bags.
- Nearly two thirds (61%) of people in the East Midlands would not reuse a bag if it contained meat.
- 100% of people in East Anglia, East Midlands, North East and Yorkshire and Humberside would use a bag with antimicrobial properties
- London and the South West were the most opposed to the idea of an antimicrobial bag, while East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside were very keen with only 11% and 13% rejected paying the idea.
The top four things people use reusable shopping bags for are rubbish (39%), shoes (38%), toiletries (38%) and packed lunch (34%).
When asked, “what’s the most unusual item you’ve put in a reusable shopping bag, among the answers were:
- The stuffed head of a fox
- A dead rabbit
- Soiled cat litter
- Prosthetic limbs
- A jar of tadpoles
- A turtle
- Dirty wellies
- Guinea pig bedding
- A bingo machine
- False teeth
- A sick pet
- A bong
- Garden weeds
- Feet (the bag is used is an over-shoe in a muddy field)
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The survey was conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Addmaster (UK) Ltd. Full survey results available on request.
The Biomaster Bag for Life contains antibacterial technology that reduces the risk of cross contamination. The bag won ‘Best New Idea’ at Foodex 2016, the UK’s premier trade event for the food and drink processing, packaging, ingredients and logistics industries and was voted Best New Product by the Society of Food Hygiene Technology. Biomaster antibacterial shopping bags are available from a number of high street retailers and online.
Biomaster Protected products are tested to ISO standards and are proven to be effective against over most common types of harmful bacteria such as E.coli, MRSA, Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Legionella and Pseudomonas. Biomaster Antimicrobial Technology and Biomaster Protected are Registered Trademarks of Addmaster (UK) Ltd.