For most of the population, the idea of visiting the butcher, baker, greengrocer and pantry for the weeks shopping seems old fashioned. For the last decade, the UK has been dominated by four major supermarket chains: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s.
Time, money and convenience are major factors for the consumer when choosing where to shop. In recent years, the government has urged the public to shop small and local to support the economy, create jobs and boost communities. Local businesses tend to have less environmental impact, sourcing local produce helping reduce their carbon footprint and often making a particular effort to be plastic free. Despite this, supermarkets are still the front runners.
It is estimated that supermarkets put over 900,000 tonnes of plastic on their shelves with only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced globally, getting recycled. We need drastic changes and quick if we are to protect our oceans and combat climate change.
A public outrage at the unnecessary and vast quantity of plastic has forced supermarkets to commit to reducing plastic in store. They have a huge responsibly to make sustainable changes to our environment.
Supermarkets have the ability to take the lead, change their shoppers and the population’s habits for the better. Helping to reduce in the amount of waste we produce as a country.
Today, packaging is considered to be a waste product; something to be disposed of. Refillable and reusable packaging can make a huge change and can make money in the process. Independent refill stations have been popping up around the country and now supermarkets are following suit. Dispensing machines allow customers to refill containers and bottles, helping stop tonnes of plastic waste.
Many brands have opened up trials in store, for example Asda opened their first trial store in October 2020, publicising that more were to roll out in 2021… potentially.
Big brands such as Kellogg’s, PG Tips, Quaker Oats and Lavazza have partnered with Asda to make it possible. So why the delay in making it more widespread?
Aldi and Sainsbury’s have the made some of the biggest commitments, vouching to reduce their plastic footprint by half by 2025. This means around 2.2 billion pieces of plastic, weighing up to 74,000 tonnes and mostly single use, will be removed. It is hoped this will be emulated across all supermarket brands.
Reducing the amount of plastic is a start, but alternatives need to be sought and enforced in order to make a significant reduction in the pollution of our planet.
While some promises are being put in place by these large organisations and indeed, small steps are being made, is it happening too slowly?