Britain’s major supermarket chains are being challenged to reintroduce paper bags as the ‘carrier of choice’ for their customers.

The call comes as the government has confirmed it is studying a scheme, introduced in Ireland earlier this year, that taxes shoppers 9p for every plastics bag they use.

The Environmental and Tech-nical Association has issued the challenge for the Paper Sack Industry. “It was only a matter of time before the government got round to looking at the Irish example of taxing plastics bags,” said ETAPS chairman John Picton.

“We believe before they take that step they should encourage the major supermarket chains to reintroduce paper bags so customers have a choice of which to use.

“The government admits it is concerned about the number of plastics bags that are routinely handed out and they also admit there are problems caused by the number of plastics bags which then find their way into landfill sites.

“We believe the reintroduction of paper bags at supermarket checkouts could go a long way to alleviating many of these prob-lems. In the US customers are given a choice and indeed are given paper bags unless they specifically ask for plastics.

“Asda, which is part of the American owned Wal-Mart chain, say it is dedicated to environ-mental issues. Well let it prove it by giving its UK customers the chance to use paper bags.”

ETAPS intends to start a lobbying campaign in favour of the paper bag and will be looking for support at Westminster, the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood and the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies.