East of England Co-op CEO Richard Samson has blasted major retailers for not doing enough to reduce customers' carrier bag use.

After introducing a charge for its carrier bags in September this year, the UK's third-largest co-op said it had reduced carrier bag usage by 84% - far exceeding the multiples' target of 50% by spring 2009. "While we are proud to be leading the way on this important issue, our food store competitors appear to be hanging back, with promises to cut plastic bag usage by up to 50% by next spring," said Samson.

"Plastic bags remain a big problem right across the country and although our customers have clearly demonstrated that there's a willingness to tackle the issues right now, it does require a genuine lead from their local supermarket or c-store operator. We look forward to seeing other major retailers following our example on this sooner rather than later."