Shetland’s Carbon Reduction Project has launched its first initiative this week.
The Bag Back Scheme operates from local shops and allows old plastic bags to be re-used within stores.
Shops across Shetland have been contacted and invited to join the scheme. Those that do will be given a specially designed collection box which can then be displayed in the shop and used to collect unwanted plastic carrier bags from members of the public.
The bags are collected by staff for re-use in the shop. During trials Walls shop saved 6,000 virgin carrier bags a quarter.
Harriet Bolt, carbon reduction officer at Shetland Amenity Trust, said: “This is a great initiative as plastic bags not only damage the environment through production and disposal, but cause an unsightly litter problem. The average person gets through 250 plastic bags a year, which is unnecessary when they are so easily re-usable.”
Although the scheme has only just been launched the response from shopkeepers has already been very encouraging. Ms Bolt said: “We’ve been really pleased with such a quick response. Some shopkeepers have even contacted us to say they’ve been re-using plastic bags for years, with great success. We’re following their good example.” The simple act of re-using a plastic bag may seem like a small gesture in the fight against climate change, Ms Bolt added, but if everyone re-uses just 150 bags a year, as an island we could reduce our carbon output by 44 tonnes. The scheme is currently involving small, rural stores but high street shops around Lerwick will also be invited to join during the second phase of the scheme.
The Bag Back scheme can bring benefits to all aspects of the community, not only reducing impact on climate change. Decreasing litter and easing the pressure on unsightly landfill sites are further good reasons to join in the scheme, said Ms Bolt, as well as the obvious financial savings to shopkeepers. Anyone interested in participating in the Bag Back scheme or seeking further information should contact Harriet Bolt at Shetland Amenity Trust on (01595) 694688.