Plastic bags have been a part of our lives for many years, but there is a growing resistance to their use from eco lobbyists who highlight the potential impact on the environment. For most of us however the plastic carrier bag is an addiction that will be difficult shake for consumers and brands.
Even with the charges imposed on the use of plastic bags in UK shops, you will struggle to find people using alternatives. If people do bring their own bags along to the supermarket for their shopping, you will often find that they too are plastic bags from a rival store.
This presents something of a problem for the store. One of the big advantages of having branded plastic bags is the ability to promote the store when the customer walks out of the door. So on the one hand there is the pressure to reduce plastic bag wastage and on the other and incentive to continue supplying customers with plastic bags.
For consumers too, particularly those shopping on the high street, walking around with a cardboard box instead of an eye-catching plastic bag detracts from the whole shopping experience. It might also look a bit odd.
There is also no substitute for a plastic bag in the rain. Bags mad from paper will quickly deteriorate in heavy rain.
So unless someone invents shopping bags cheap enough and robust enough to serve the needs of consumers and retailers alike, we are unlikely to break our addiction to plastic.