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Anya Hindmarch partners with supermarkets on recycled shopping bag

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Nov 16, 2021

Retail

Image: courtesy of Sainsbury’s; Anya Hindmarch 'The Universal Bag'

British accessories designer Anya Hindmarch is teaming up with Sainsbury’s and Waitrose to launch a durable and reusable shopping bag that is made from 100 percent recycled material.

The circular “universal bag” is a project to inspire further change in consumer behaviour and to reduce the reliance on single-use plastic bags. While sales have reduced dramatically, falling by 95 percent in main supermarkets between 2015 and 2020, after the UK government introduced legislation to address the issue, nearly half a billion single-use plastic bags were still sold between 2020 and 2021, according to recent government data.

The project, launched by Anya Hindmarch with production partner Solent, is open to all supermarkets globally, with each partner able to customise their own exclusive version of The Universal Bag, in keeping with their own brand.

The first recycled shopping bags will be launched by Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. The Sainsbury’s edition will launch on December 2 across 334 stores in the UK, with the Waitrose edition available from January 26, 2022, in more than 90 stores initially. Both bags will cost 10 pounds each.

The bag itself will be made from 100 percent recycled plastic and each step and material used in making the bag has been fully certified under the Global Recycling Scheme (GRS) to make it a truly 100 percent recycled product.

Each Universal Bag has also been designed to be practical and durable, with extensive testing guaranteeing it to last ten years. At the end of its life, the shopper can also be sent off to be recycled locally, as it features an innovative, convenient freepost returns pouch built into a pocket inside the bag. You simply turn the bag into its built-in pocket, which acts as a pre-addressed envelope and then post it through a letterbox.

Anya Hindmarch launches ‘The Universal Bag’ to reduce single-use plastic bags in supermarkets

Anya Hindmarch, founder and creative director, said in a statement: “Everyone needs a bag to move things around. The Universal Bag is designed to offer an alternative solution that saves plastic from landfill, is simple to recycle 100 percent, is guaranteed for 10 years, and is hopefully special enough to inspire people to use it.

“When you throw something away, there is no “away”. By collaborating on this project supermarkets are showing their continued commitment to reducing the amount of plastic on our planet.”

Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Sainsbury’s added: “We are serious about reducing plastic and we know it’s an issue our customers and colleagues are passionate about too. It’s why we set an ambitious target to reduce our use of plastic packaging by 50 percent by 2025 and committed to making it easier for our customers to recycle while offering them more reusable options when they shop with us.

“It’s for this reason that fourteen years after we first partnered with Anya Hindmarch on the ground-breaking ‘I Am Not A Plastic Bag’ we’re delighted to join forces with her again on a brilliant new initiative, The Universal Bag. Reducing plastic and tackling the climate crisis can’t be solved in isolation, it requires collaboration and we’re proud to represent that message and inspire change as part of Anya’s new campaign.”

James Bailey, executive director at Waitrose, commented: “We recently took the decision to remove our bags for life as our research showed that they were increasingly being treated as a single-use item, and this is part of our commitment to only use plastic where it can be recycled, reused or home composted by 2023.

“Plastic will continue to have its uses but we must not create any more of it unnecessarily. Instead, we must repurpose, reuse and make existing plastic materials circular - this is why we’re excited to be an early adopter of Anya Hindmarch’s new Universal Bag as it is a great example of circularity at work.”

Anya Hindmarch also added that with its production partner Solent Group it will share the learnings from this project with all global retailers on request, to help advance progress in the use, reuse and recycling of shopping bags around the world.