The UK's largest DIY chain, B&Q, has announced it is to stop selling environmentally damaging patio heaters once its current stock is sold off.
The company said yesterday it has 20,000 heaters in its stores and expects to sell the last one during 2008. After that it will no longer stock the heaters once branded by ministers as "environmental obscenities."
The company says it has decided to stop selling the heaters which consume enough energy in an hour to make 400 cups of tea, as part of its plan to put the environment at the heart its business. It also follows a long campaign by against the heaters by environmental groups.
Ian Cheshire, the chief executive of B&Q, said: "A quarter of the UK's total carbon emissions come from the home and as the largest home improvement retailer in the country we are uniquely placed to help customers make a real difference.
"We are all too aware of the impact our lives have on the environment and our initiatives will provide real and simple solutions to help people live more sustainable lives," he said.
A report published last year by the Market Transformation Programme which supports government policy on sustainable products, estimated there could be as many 630,000 patio heaters in household gardens.
In April last year the Wyvale garden centre chain said it would no longer stock selling gas-powered patio heaters, following a campaign against them. The energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, once described them as "environmental obscenities".
Friends of the Earth welcomed the decision. Campaigner Ed Matthew said: "These carbon-belching monstrosities waste energy and cause needless damage to our environment. We are delighted that B&Q has decided to stop selling these products. But the government must now act and ban patio heaters. It's time to get tough on tackling climate change."
It has been claimed that domestic patio heaters alone could produce a total of 140,000 tones of carbon dioxide per year.
B&Q has also announced that it has signed a three-year partnership to become a One Planet Living business, a global initiative set up by the WWF which commits B&Q to 10 principles of sustainability. These include zero carbon, zero waste, sustainable water, natural habitats and wildlife, culture and heritage and equity and fair trade.
B&Q aims to have a substantial product range in store by 2010 which will give consumers further opportunities to buy truly sustainable home improvement products.