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One Bag Habit – for more sustainable bag consumption

Fewer bags that get more use: that’s the aim of One Bag Habit, which involves us charging for shopping bags in our stores. Close to 70 per cent of customers in our stores are now saying “No” to bags. Together we have created a new sustainable habit!

Since the One Bag Habit initiative was launched in June 2017, the number of shopping bags has been reduced by several million. What’s more, we have donated the proceeds of these shopping bag sales – a total of SEK 3.5 million – to organisations working to promote sustainable development. Now that’s what you call a sustainability win-win – one that makes a difference for people as well as the planet!


Shopping bags – a global challenge

Reducing the use of shopping bags is a key sustainability challenge globally. In Sweden alone, we use 200 plastic bags per person and year on average, and each bag is used for only about 30 minutes. All bags – even those made of recycled and renewable materials – take considerable energy to produce, transport and recycle. A plastic bag that ends up in the natural environment never degrades completely; rather, it breaks down into tiny fragments, which become a harmful ingredient in the food chain for animals and humans alike.

Plastic carriers are still the most sustainable bag choice

Is it really true that plastic bags are better than paper ones, Fredrika Klarén, Head of Sustainability at KappAhl?

“It’s clear that as a society we need to use less plastic on the whole, but replacing plastic with paper, textiles or wood isn’t automatically more sustainable. For certain products that can be the case – like cotton buds, for example, which get flushed down the toilet far too often – but not for KappAhl’s recycled plastic bags. Paper bags are resource-intensive, partly because they weigh a lot and are heavy to transport. And cloth totes also involve a lot of resources, especially at the fibre-growing stage. Depending on the production method, these need to be used 130–400 times to bring them down to the same climate footprint as recycled plastic bags.

We know that KappAhl’s recycled plastic bags have a lower climate impact than paper ones. A life-cycle analysis in which we compared recycled plastic bags with bags made from virgin plastic, recycled paper and virgin paper, respectively, reveals each material’s carbon footprint:

Our customers can recycle their plastic bags and other plastic waste, in doing so ensuring that the plastic doesn’t end up in landfill (as it will then eventually end up in the sea). So as long as the plastic bags are recycled, they are currently the most environmentally friendly option.”


How to be a sustainable bag user!

Use the bags you already have! A bag can and should be used many times, to have the least possible impact on the environment. If a bag can’t be used any more, then you should ensure it ends up in the right place in the closed loop, so that it can be recycled (all of KappAhl’s bags are recyclable, and the majority of others are, too). If you do this, we promise to make sure that the bags we sell are the best environmental choice on the market, in any material.


The proceeds are donated to organisations that promote sustainability

We donate the proceeds of our One Bag Habit bag sales through KappAhl Responsible Actions to organisations working to promote sustainable development, either environmentally or socially.

After One Bag Habit’s first three months, we donated just over SEK 0.5 million to UNHCR’s disaster appeal in Bangladesh and to the Hunger Project’s activities in aid of women at risk in India, Bangladesh and a number of African countries.

The proceeds from the 2017/2018 financial year totalled SEK 2.9 million, and they were donated to environmental organisations working to prevent littering in our four market countries:

How will the money from One Bag Habit be invested, Johanna Ragnartz, CEO of the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation?

“First and foremost, I would like to say a huge thank-you to KappAhl and all their customers. Congratulations on adopting more sustainable habits! New habits like this drive significant change. The money raised by One Bag Habit will make a big difference to our efforts to encourage sound environmental habits among all children in Sweden. We believe that sustained communication in early childhood is key to establishing responsible habits and behaviour. This will help improve the prospects for a viable and sustainable future on this planet. Together we make a difference!”

Quick facts – One Bag Habit

On 1 June 2017, KappAhl, Lindex and H&M took a joint initiative to create One Bag Habit, through which we started charging for shopping bags in our Swedish stores. At the start of 2018, we also introduced One Bag Habit in our Norwegian, Finnish and Polish KappAhl stores. One Bag Habit has so far been adopted by twenty companies in the apparel and footwear industry.

As members of One Bag Habit, companies undertake to:

  • Charge for all bags offered to customers, regardless of their material or size.
  • Inform customers of the climate impact bags have, the advantages of reducing bag consumption, and how they as customers can use bags more sustainably.
  • Offer recyclable bags that are made of more sustainable materials.
  • Donate the proceeds of all bag sales to causes that promote sustainable development.
  • Publish an annual report on the results.