China's shops hand out 50 billion plastic carrier bags to customers each year, according to a report by the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA).
The report on issues of energy conservation in chain stores was based on a three-month survey into the country's 30 high-profile retail chain stores and franchises, according to CCFA.
An official with the CCFA, surnamed Lu, said the number of carrier bags handed out would rise with the expansion of the retail sector if no effective measures were taken to curb their use.
Yang Qingsong, vice director of the CCFA's information department, said the CCFA found a large supermarket, with a business operation area of 8,000 square meters or more, spent 400,000 yuan a year, or 0.5 percent of its yearly turnover, on providing customers packing bags.
Chronic pollution caused by plastic packing bags has become an international headache, especially in China, said the report.
The report encouraged customers to bring their own bags and stores to provide recyclable or reusable bags or to charge for plastic bags.
Currently, most Chinese stores provide free bags for customers.
Yang said a few chain stores in cities of Beijing and Shanghai charged for bags, so as to encourage customers to bring their own.
Some chain stores posted signs on their premises suggesting customers should bring their own bags.
But more efforts were needed to raise public awareness of energy conservation in shopping, he said.
Some experts suggested that government could offer tax rebates to stores that provided recyclable or reusable bags.
The report said if the whole retail industry could reduce the use of one plastic bag for each 100 yuan of sales, their use could be reduced by 10 billion a year.
The report also said the large supermarket with a business operation area of 8,000 square meters or more racked up an electricity bill of 1.3 to 1.5 million yuan a year.
The report suggested that supermarkets should switch to electricity-saving lamps to reduce electricity costs. It cited the case of the Shenzhen Minrun agricultural product chain store, which reduced its electricity consumption by 30 percent a year and saved more than six million yuan in electricity bills after installing electricity-saving lamps in more than 100 shops.
Refrigerating equipment and air conditioning systems should also be energy-saving ones.