Supermarket bags for life: which retailer sells the cheapest reusable bags?

If you have to fork out for supermarket bags for life, it pays to know where you can get the cheapest one

fully stocked supermarket shelves with empty aisle
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We've probably all got multiple supermarket bags for life or reusable carrier bags stashed in a drawer or cupboard somewhere that we forget to take with us when we go shopping, but with some supermarkets raising the prices of their bags this summer, we've checked out which supermarket sells the cheapest options. 

Food prices continue to soar (opens in new tab),  which was a major contributing factor to inflation surpassing 10% (opens in new tab). While struggling families will be searching for ways to save money on food (opens in new tab) in order to save money, it can be quite easy to overlook how much you might be paying for a supermarket bag for life if you forget to take your own. 

It was back in 2015 when stores first started charging for single use plastic bags.  According to Government data (opens in new tab), the main retailers (Asda, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, The Co-op, Tesco and Waitrose) sold 197 million single use carrier bags in England between 7 April 2021 and 6 April 2022, compared to 294 million single use carrier bags in the same period from 2020-2021. In 2021-2022, the average person bought around nine plastic bags a year. This is compared to the 38 per person in 2016-2017. 

Firstly, these were charges at 5p a time, then 10p and now with retailers under pressure to do more to save the planet, they’re offering a range of paper, compostable and recyclable bags – at a price.

Where can you get the cheapest supermarket bags for life or reusable carrier bag? 

The cheapest bag you can buy to carry your shopping home in is the Co-op’s compostable carrier bag (opens in new tab) that you can pick up for just 10p.  The Co-op says it was the first UK food retailer to sell “certified compostable carrier bags, which are designed with the second use as a food waste caddy liner”.  

How much do other supermarkets charge for their bags? 

Asda

Asda no longer has single use plastic bags and since July 2019 there’s been no option to have carrier bags with your online orders, either for Click & Collect or home delivery.

Asda has three different bags for life. (opens in new tab)  Its basic version costs 20p and measures 44 x 43 x 18 cm in size. It also sells a larger version which measures 43 x 38 x 22 cm for  55p along with a cool bag for life at £1.75.

Aldi

Aldi sells its Eco Loop carrier bag (opens in new tab) for 25p per bag, but offers other bags for life for around 59p per bag. 

Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s (opens in new tab) put up the price of its bags for life from 20p to 30p in June this year in an attempt to encourage customers to reuse them.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “its bags are made from 100% recycled content, are recyclable in store and customers can also return their old bags to store where they will be replaced for free”.

Tesco 

Tesco charges 30p for a bag for life in a bid to encourage customers to bring their own bags to cut down on plastic and avoid paying for a bag. 

Its bags for life are made from 100% recycled plastic and can be replaced for free in store as well as being recycled. Tesco also sells a more expensive range of reusable carrier bags (opens in new tab) ranging from 75p  - £1.25.

Iceland 

You can buy reusable and recyclable paper bags for your shopping for 30p a go or for £1 you can buy Iceland’s (opens in new tab) recently launched bag for life.   This is a woven reusable bag.

Morrisons 

Morrisons (opens in new tab) multi-use paper bags cost 40p and its multi-use plastic bags are 60p – which it says are priced according to encourage shoppers to choose paper over plastic.

Morrisons is phasing out all plastic bags by the end of 2022 and says it wants to encourage shoppers to re-use its paper bags and not to use them for a single shopping trip.  

Waitrose

Waitrose (opens in new tab) removed all its 10p bags for life from major stores last September and introduced a new reusable bag, which it says is “twice as durable, made from recycled materials and fully recyclable”.  

This costs 50p – however it also sells a range of other reusable bags – the cheapest of which is its 100% recycled shopper for £1.50 up to £6 for its Duchy reusable organic cotton bag.

SupermarketCheapest reusable bag
Co-Op10p
Asda20p
Aldi25p
Sainsbury's30p
Tesco30p
Iceland30p
Morrisons40p
Waitrose50p

Are reusable carriers and bags for life a good idea?

While bags for life can be good for the environment and your bank balance, they are only good if you remember to take them with you when you go shopping rather than needing to buy more, or treating them as single use bags.

According to environmental organisation WRAP (opens in new tab),  90% of us own at least one reusable bag for life, but one in three of us have the bags at home and rarely use them. If that sounds like you, have a root around and dig out all the bags for life you can find. 

WRAP also says 13% of people ‘often or always’ buy bags at the till, and parents between the ages of 18-34 are the most likely to do this. The main reason being that reusable bags are left at home. 

Try and keep a bag for life in your handbag and a couple in your car to avoid getting caught short when out and about. While you might think buying a bag only costs a few pence at a time, if you have to buy one or more every time you go shopping, the cost soon adds up. 

Sue Hayward is a personal finance and consumer journalist, broadcaster and author who regularly chats on TV and Radio on ways to get more power for your pound. Sue’s written for a wide range of publications including the Guardian, i Paper, Good Housekeeping, Lovemoney and My Weekly. Cats, cheese and travel are Sue’s passions away from her desk!
With contributions from