Greenpeace volunteers and shoppers in Huddersfield hand back pointless plastic to supermarket store managers

Greenpeace volunteers and shoppers in Huddersfield hand back pointless plastic to supermarket store managers

Saturday, September 15th - Sainsbury's and Tesco

Local Greenpeace volunteers and shoppers in Huddersfield handed items of single-use plastic packaging back at tills, with notes to store managers in both Sainsbury's and Tesco calling for action to reduce excessive throwaway packaging.

Single-use plastic packaging is a major contributor to the plastic pollution that is having a devastating impact on our oceans, and UK supermarkets generate more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year. Shoppers were encouraged to remove unnecessary plastic packaging from items they purchased and leave it at the checkout, handing responsibility for its disposal back to the company selling it.

Greenpeace volunteers visited over 60 supermarkets in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland on September 15th.

Jeff Rice, a volunteer with Huddersfield Greenpeace, said:

“After Blue Planet and the general outrage over plastic pollution, it’s disappointing to see so many Sainsbury’s and Tesco products wrapped in plastic. Packaging is a huge part of the plastic problem, and supermarkets are responsible for a lot of that packaging. The public have made it very clear that we are not happy seeing our oceans polluted with this pointless plastic, and we need to see supermarkets taking concrete steps to reduce their contribution.”

“Supermarkets care what their customers think. None of us want throwaway plastic in our weekly shop. It’s time supermarkets turn off the tap on the 800,000 tonnes of plastic they produce every year.”

Public support for action on plastic pollution is swelling. 130,000 members of the public have responded to the Treasury call for evidence on how taxes and charges could be used to address single-use plastic pollution, setting a new record for a Treasury consultation.

Greenpeace’s 2016 microbeads petition calling on the government for a ban on tiny microplastics was Greenpeace UK’s most successful environmental petition which has now been surpassed by a new petition asking supermarkets to reduce the volume of throwaway plastic packaging they produce, signed by over 650,000 people across the UK.

Environmental organisations have also challenged major supermarkets to act on plastic, launching a new survey to rank their efforts. Greenpeace UK and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) are conducting a survey of major UK grocery retailers, their use of single-use plastic packaging and their targets to reduce it. The results will provide a benchmark for current commitments and actions on curbing plastic pollution.

Elena Polisano, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace UK, said:

"Supermarkets selling masses of throwaway plastic packaging should be making great strides to stop their plastic from clogging up our oceans. Major grocery retailers have a huge role to play in cutting the overall amount of throwaway plastic being produced, making sure unnecessary and non-recyclable plastics are off the shelves by 2019, and switching to truly sustainable solutions. We’ve set this supermarket challenge to encourage retailers to go further, faster, to curb ocean plastic pollution.”

Greenpeace is calling on UK retailers to:

  1. Introduce transparency by publishing yearly audits of single-use plastic use
  2. Set year on year targets to reduce their single-use plastic footprint
  3. Urgently eliminate unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic packaging by 2019