Sainsbury’s, Lidl and Aldi are trailing behind their rivals in efforts to reduce plastic, according to new Greenpeace analysis of British supermarkets.
The campaigning group has released a new report that ranks the UK’s major supermarket chains on their efforts to tackle the plastics crisis. This follows Greenpeace analysis that indicated the UK’s largest 10 supermarkets were collectively responsible for creating 810,000 tonnes of single-use plastic every year – equivalent to more than 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging.
In partnership with the Environmental Investigation Agency, Greenpeace asked Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Co-op, Lidl, Waitrose, M&S and Iceland to share their policies on reducing plastics and calculated a ranking based on actions Greenpeace felt “demonstrated a commitment to reducing single-use plastic.” Ocado declined to participate, Greenpeace said.
It asked the supermarkets a series of 22 questions around their plans to reduce single-use plastics, influence suppliers to do so and eliminate non-recyclable plastics, then scored each chain out of ten.
Greenpeace gave Sainsbury’s the lowest score of 3.2, while Lidl and Aldi received the joint second lowest score of 4.1.
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None of the supermarkets scored top marks but Iceland, which this week kicked off an awareness campaign around its Christmas advert, which was banned “for being too political” and highlights natural habitats destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations, was given the highest score – 5.7 out of 10.
This was because of its “ambitious plan for phasing out own-brand plastic packaging within five years,” the campaigners said.
Morrisons came in second place with a score of 5.3, Waitrose scored 4.7, M&S 4.6, Tesco 4.5, Asda 4.3, and Co-op 4.2 out of 10.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents UK supermarkets, said retailers did recognise the importance of tackling plastic pollution.
“Billions of tonnes of waste has been prevented so far and the industry is working towards the goal of 100% of plastic packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 at the latest and eliminating all unnecessary single use packaging,” Peter Andrews, BRC head of sustainability said.
“We know customers need to trust that if packaging is put in a recycling bin, it will be recycled by local authorities. But we are concerned that the pace of change is being hampered by a lack of recycling infrastructure,” he added.
However, Greenpeace insisted supermarkets were “right at the heart” of the plastic pollution “crisis” and that much of the plastic packaging filling people’s homes comes from supermarket shelves with high-street giants “still not taking full responsibility for it”.
Oceans campaigner Elena Polisano, from Greenpeace, said: “So far most retail bosses have responded to growing concern from customers with a pick-and-mix of different plastic announcements, but have failed to come up with the coherent plastic reduction plans required to solve this problem.
“The success of the plastic bag charge shows big retailers can crack down on plastic waste if they really mean to. Every little may well help, but if we are to protect our natural world and ourselves from pervasive plastic pollution, supermarkets need to check out on throwaway plastic fast.”