Bags for life, it’s an interesting term for the better quality carrier bags that most stores charge 10p or so for. They are ‘better for the environment’ than the ‘single use’ bags that retailers got in to trouble with a few years ago. You may recall the Daily Mail going out to fight for the turtles.

Last year I covered the publication of a research report from the Environment Agency on multiple use of plastic and fabric carrier bags. For the last few months I have been undertaking some unexpected research of my own into supermarket ‘Bag for Life’ (LDEP bag).

I can’t claim rigorous academic standards for my observations, but considering that the EA report indicates that compared to a ‘single use’ bag being used just 3 times, a Bag for Life needs to be used 12 times. The comparison that I have notices is between bags that we purchased in the Netherlands from Albert Heijn 5 years ago and others from UK supermarkets. I also have been using a Spar branded bag.

The best performer is definitely the Albert Heijn bags that have now been used hundreds of times and although the bags no longer look as pristine as they did when we paid 20 cents for them in 2007 they clearly have a lot of life left in them. At the other end of the scale are the Tesco bags that we paid 10p for, but during the last 5 months we have swopped 2 damaged bags for new replacements.

It’s quite clear that the Tesco variety are not made of as robust plastic as some of the others in our collection. How good are the bags you provide in your store and how many damaged bags do you replace a month?