UK Supermarket Plastic Use Increases: Despite Pledges To Cut Waste

Seven out of 10 top retailers increased their plastic footprint, with only three managing marginal reductions
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Environmentalists are urging supermarkets to cut down on plastic waste (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Environmentalists are urging supermarkets to cut down on plastic waste (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Supermarket plastic use has increased over the last, despite retailers making public commitments to reduce it, according to a report.

Checking Out on Plastics II: Breakthroughs and backtracking from supermarkets, by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace, reveals that seven out of the top 10 UK supermarkets have increased their plastic footprint.

Only three of the top 10 - Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's - have achieved 'marginal reductions' in that time.

Packaging-free

According to the report, Waitrose topped the performance table for reducing plastic waste, as it has reduced packaging as well as trialed refill stations in store for products such as coffee, rice, and pasta as well as wine and detergent. It is looking to scale up this trial.

Now EIA and Greenpeace are urging all supermarkets to work towards eliminating single-use plastic, by offering packaging-free products or switching to reusable and refillable packaging.

Waitrose topped the performance table for reducing plastic waste (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Waitrose topped the performance table for reducing plastic waste (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

'Shocking'

"It's shocking to see that despite unprecedented awareness of the pollution crisis, the amount of single-use plastic used by the UK's biggest supermarkets has actually increased in the past year," said EIA Ocean Campaigner Juliet Phillips.

"Our survey shows that grocery retailers need to tighten up targets to drive real reductions in single-use packaging and items.

"We need to address our throwaway culture at root through systems change, not materials change – substituting one single-use material for another is not the solution."

'Failing on plastics'

"Supermarkets are failing on plastics and failing their customers," Fiona Nicholls, Ocean Plastics Campaigner for Greenpeace UK, added.

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

"Supermarkets need to buck up and think bigger. They must change their stores to offer loose food dispensers, reusable packaging, and move away from throwaway packaging altogether."

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