The amount of plastic waste supermarkets are producing on a yearly basis is a huge concern for both consumers and environmental groups. The impact of plastic pollution is a global issue. It was estimated that plastic consumption across the world was over 297.5 million tonnes in 2015 and the figures continue to rise.
Although a lot of the campaigning carried out is aimed at individuals, with the focus being on consumers reducing their own plastic consumption and being encourage to recycle, campaigners and politicians have revealed that they believe supermarkets and manufacturers need to take a much more active role in protecting the environment. In addition to this, campaigners have urged the government to make supermarkets pay for a larger proportion of their plastic waste recycling in a bid to protect the environment.
It’s been estimated that supermarkets across the UK produce close to 1 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. However, in a bid to reduce these figures, campaigners believe more pressure needs to be put on supermarkets to reveal how much plastic waste they produce. This would help to hold them accountable for the plastic waste they produce and encourage them to reduce these shocking figures.
Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said more transparency would encourage more supermarkets to improve their recycling figures. “They should include measures such as phasing out non-recyclable and single-use plastics from own brand products, installing free water fountains and re-fill stations for soft drinks, backing deposit return schemes and trialling reusable packaging for home deliveries.”
Under an EU directive, supermarkets are required to declare the exact amount of plastic they put on the market annually. Despite this, they are not required to share this information with consumers. All the major supermarkets have refused to reveal these figures as they believe it’s “commercially sensitive”, which has caused outrage among environmental groups and MP’s.
Mary Creagh, MP and chair of the environmental audit committee, voiced her concerns. She said “a plastic tide is engulfing our streets, beaches and oceans” and called on the government to act. Government should change the rules to encourage the use of packaging that is easy to recycle and raise charges on plastics that are difficult to recycle, to reduce the amount and type of plastic we use.”
Green Party member Caroline Lucas added that the government needs to be tougher with the supermarkets, and although steps have been taken towards reducing plastic waste, more action is required to bring the figures down. “For a start that must mean forcing supermarkets to come clean about how much plastic they use – but they should also ask those who use the most to pay more of the cost of dealing with it too,” she said.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs added that reforms were needed “in order to incentivise producers to take greater responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products.” Adding that “We will be publishing more detail in our upcoming resources and waste strategy.”
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