Supermarket news: checking out on plastics
Supermarkets and their plastic footprint
A new report ‘Checking Out on Plastics II: Breakthroughs and backtracking from supermarkets’, has revealed that seven of the top 10 supermarkets have increased the plastic packaging they use, also known as their ‘plastic footprint’ – despite public commitments to cut down.
Companies at the top of the 2019 league table were Waitrose and Morrisons, who performed best in making enthusiastic commitments to scale-up packaging-free and reuse solutions.
Waitrose also achieved an actual decrease in their plastic footprint this year, along with Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Sainsbury’s were one of the big climbers this year. Having come bottom of the league last year, they now sit in third place. Sainsbury’s announced plans to reduce plastic by 50%, and introduced reusable produce bags for loose fruit and vegetables. This came as tens of thousands of customers took action against them for their plastic apathy.
Bags for life
A big area for improvement is plastic bags. While the 5p charge may have driven down demand for carrier bags, it’s just shifted the problem. Supermarkets sold 1.5 billion ‘bags for life’ last year – roughly 54 per UK household.
Campaigners say that by charging more for bags for life, giving discounts to those who reuse them or bring in their own reusable bags, supermarkets could reduce demand.
Sign Greenpeace's petition telling supermarkets to ditch plastic packaging.
Read the full report on the Environmental Investigation Agency's website.
How are supermarkets addressing plastic pollution?
They surveyed the top UK supermarkets and grocery convenience store chains and found that just 10 supermarkets collectively put more than 810,000 tonnes of plastic on the market each year. This is in addition to more than 1.1 billion single-use plastic bags, 958 million bags for life and 1.2 billion plastic produce bags for fruit and veg.
There is also a shortage of plans in place to stem the flood. Most commitments made by supermarkets are weak, with room for improvement even among survey leaders – Iceland and Morrisons.