With green issues topping almost every country’s political agenda, it is unsurprising that promotional cotton bags have risen in popularity.

Supermarkets have leapt at the chance to boost their eco-credentials by offering their customers so-called bags for life. In other words, branded promotional cotton bags that can be used time and time again.

However, the trusted plastic promotional bag may not be as environmentally-damaging as was once thought.

According to the Environment Agency, single use plastic bags are not so damaging to the environment because of the high levels of recycling that takes place in western nations.

The agency said that thick, reusable plastic bags only have to be used four times in order to be considered environmentally-friendly.

Andrew Opie, sustainability director for the British Retail Consortium, said he hoped the research would consign the plastic bag debate to the history books.

Speaking to the Grocer, he said: “Agonising over bags distracts consumers from making bigger changes to their habits which would do more to benefit the environment.”

1 Booth, Nick. “Get over your obsession with carrier bags, BRC tells greens“. The Grocer. Tuesday, February 23rd 2011.