Supermarket plastic usage rises despite reduction pledges

Seven out of 10 supermarkets increased plastic usage

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The amount of single-use plastic used by supermarkets has risen to more than 900,000 tonnes, despite retailers making public commitments to cut down on such packaging.

A report by Greenpeace and the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) found that seven out of the 10 major UK supermarkets increased their plastic footprint over the last year.

Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s were the only stores to achieve “marginal” reductions.

The study also ranked the supermarkets in order of their environmental pledges, which include reducing single-use plastic and eliminating non-recyclable packaging.

Waitrose came in first place, followed by Morrisons – both scored highly for reducing, or setting targets to reduce, plastic packaging and trialling refill initiatives.

Sainsbury’s climbed to third place, having been bottom of the table last year, after announcing plans to reduce plastic by 50 per cent and introducing reusable produce bags for loose fruit and vegetables.

Iceland dropped from top spot down to seventh place and Lidl, Asda and Aldi were the three worst performers.

However, despite the targets and initiatives, total plastic packaging used by the 10 supermarkets increased from an estimated 886,000 tonnes in 2017 to 903,000 tonnes in 2018.

The EIA and Greenpeace are urging supermarkets to “buck up and think bigger” and eventually eliminate single-use plastic altogether.

Ocean campaigner Juliet Phillips said the increase was “shocking” given the “unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis”.

Fiona Nicholls, from Greenpeace UK, said: “Supermarkets are failing on plastics and failing their customers.

“We hear piecemeal supermarket announcements on plastic every other week, but in reality they are putting more plastic on the shelves than ever.”

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