A new report from Greenpeace shows how the UK supermarkets could make significant reductions to the amount of plastic they produce by focusing their attention on the packaging for 54 grocery categories. The analysis also shows that changing the packaging for just 13 categories of popular groceries, like fizzy drinks, fruit and vegetables, and household detergents, supermarkets could reduce plastic by approximately 35%, remove 45 billion pieces of supermarket plastic, and more than 300,000 tonnes of plastic. This is the equivalent weight of 7,000 supermarket delivery lorries, that if lined up nose to tail could lead from Birmingham to Manchester.
The report published on 1 September, Unpacked: How supermarkets can cut plastic packaging in half by 2025, shares brand new data modelling for the amount of plastic packaging our supermarkets are producing each year, based on 2019 supermarket figures. It features new calculations for the estimated weight, sales units and number of components (pieces) of plastic in our grocery shopping, and the numbers are representative of the entire UK supermarket sector, which has never been done before. Previous research has not detailed the number of plastic components, such as the individual lids, labels and films, and previous studies have not examined the plastic in terms of product categories, like bottled water, fizzy drinks, household detergents and vegetables.
Greenpeace’s report not only provides the most up-to-date calculations of how much plastic packaging our supermarkets are using, but also explains a model for how all UK supermarkets could cut their plastic footprints by 50% by 2025. Importantly, the report provides a unique sector-wide view for the first time. By identifying the “hotspot” product categories which the new data sets suggest put the most single-use plastic onto the market, the report points out the product categories that have the highest potential for plastic reduction.
The report also draws attention to the fact that just five product categories, within the set of 13 mentioned above, are estimated to contribute 247,000 tonnes of plastic packaging every year. Bottled water, fizzy drinks, milk, vegetables and salads and wrapped fruit are collectively packaged in around 46 billion pieces of plastic. If supermarkets follow the recommendations in the report for reducing the plastic on these five product categories alone, they could reduce their plastic use by 35% by 2025, 70% of the way to the 50% reduction target.
The full Unpacked report by Greenpeace UK can be found at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/resources/unpacked-supermarket-plastic-report/
The War on Plastics – The Fight Goes on! Screened on BBC1 on Tuesday 1 September and now available on iplayer. View at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000m82c/war-on-plastic-with-hugh-and-anita-the-fight-goes-on
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