What has your supermarket done to decrease plastic usage?

Supermarkets fail to reduce plastic in 2019.
Annual increase of 14,000 tonnes.

Each year new reports come out detailing how industries are reacting to the global crisis of ‘plastic’. New facts and figures are tossed around but what does it really matter if after all the research nothing changes? In a recent study by the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace UK it was calculated that UK supermarkets have increased their plastic usage by 14,000 tonnes since 2018 to 900,000 plus tonnes. So, what’s been happening with your supermarket?

Do Supermarket pledges mean anything?
Who’s topped the 2019 Leaderboard?

Weekly and almost daily we hear about pledges from British Supermarkets to reduce plastic usage, but when the latest report was published it’s safe to say that EIA Ocean Campaigner, Juliet Philips, was ‘shocked’ to see an increase in plastic usage when awareness of plastic pollution was at an all time high. 

There have been some positive changes in response to the previous years report, for example Sainsbury’s have made massive strides to move from the bottom of the leaderboard to third, however, other key players such as Iceland, lost their top spot and moved down seven places. At the top of the leaderboard were Morrisons and Waitrose, with special recognition given to three of the top ten supermarkets for achieving ‘marginal’ reductions in plastic: Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

So what’s affected this year’s report? Well, some supermarkets have been replacing plastic with other single-use materials, such as cardboard, or making the plastic they use thinner, so there’s less waste going to landfill. According to the EIA and Greenpeace these offer false solutions to the real problem and only a complete removal of packaging or the use of reusable or refillable packaging should be in place. A change in the way we do things is called upon, not a change in the materials used. Try ordering loose fruit or vegetables online …….there are no options to go plastic free, even if you wanted to.

There are several plausible explanations for the 2019 increase; our disposable culture for one and an increase in sales during the year. What is clear is that supermarket pledges have meant very little in the eyes of the EIA. In the main most supermarkets have failed their customers and the demand for eco-friendly options has gone unanswered. Perhaps a few more should take a leaf out of Tesco’s book and stipulate to suppliers that they reduce the plastic they use or face deletion from their supplier list.

At allpack® we aim to meet the plastic crisis head on for any company wishing to make changes. We can support businesses in the redesign of packaging, reduce plastic usage and offer a top quality range of eco-friendly packaging products that don’t compromise on performance. Free to download is our Environmental brochure that offers valuable insights into definitions and solutions to companies wishing to make positive progression towards a plastic free environment. Alternatively, you can book a no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced consultants here.

Source: Talking retail.com: Seven out of 10 Supermarkets increase plastic ‘footprint’ - despite packaging pledges: Ellis Cronin: 28 November 2019