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Boots UK to replace plastic carrier bags with unbleached paper bags in all stores

24 June 2019
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From today, (Monday 24th June), Boots will become the first national pharmacy, health and beauty retailer in the UK to move to unbleached (brown) paper carrier bags as standard. It will also be the first national pharmacy chain to move to unbleached paper dispensing bags.

The paper bags will replace plastic bags in 53 Boots stores across the UK, with a full roll out to all 2,485* stores completed by early 2020, and removing over 900[1] tonnes of plastic from Boots store operations each year.

Seb James, Senior Vice-President and Managing Director, Boots UK comments, “Plastic waste is undoubtedly one of the most important issues around the world today with TV shows like Blue Planet highlighting the effects of plastic pollution. This year, we are transforming Boots as we celebrate 170 years, and the move to unbleached paper bags is another pivotal moment in that journey. There is no doubt that our customers expect us to act and this change signifies a huge step away from our reliance on plastic.”

Recent research of 6,000 Boots customers shows how important this issue is to customers; when asked 92% of Boots customers are concerned about the number of plastic bags used in the UK and 94% agree that it is a good idea to move to paper bags.[2]

Helen Normoyle, Director of Marketing, Boots UK added: “We have seen a significant shift in our customers’ attitudes towards plastics and recycling in recent years - there’s never been a more important time to show our customers that we’re taking action to reduce our impact. Our new paper bags have been carefully tested to make sure that over their entire life cycle they are better for the environment, whilst still being a sturdy, practical option for customers who haven’t bought their own bags with them when shopping.”

The new Boots bags are made from unbleached, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified recycled brown paper, which is printed with water-based inks so the bags can be easily recycled at home. Sourced and manufactured in the UK, the bags display the On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) standard, which helps consumers to recycle correctly and more often.

Customers can purchase a small, medium or large paper carrier bag for 5p, 7p, or 10p. All profits will be donated to Boots long-term charity partner BBC Children in Need to support disadvantaged children across the UK.

Claire Hoyle, Commercial Director at BBC Children in Need commented: “We’re incredibly grateful to Boots for their continued support. The money raised will go to make a positive, lasting difference to disadvantaged children and young people in communities across the UK.”

[1] Figures quoted for the 12 months ending 6th April 2019

[2] Verve survey, commissioned by Boots UK, 6,000 respondents, May 2019 (unpublished)


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023