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Supermarkets challenged to act faster on plastic, as new survey launches to rank their efforts

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace UK are conducting a survey of major UK grocery retailers, their use of single-use plastic packaging and their targets to reduce it.

Published: May 23, 2018
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The results, due in the autumn, are expected to reveal the volume of single-use plastic packaging each retailer puts onto the market every year, their targets to reduce plastic packaging, and their approach to tackling plastic pollution across their supply chains.

The detailed survey, which is believed to be the largest ever survey of UK grocery retailers and plastic, has been sent to the 11 largest supermarkets by market share and grocery retailers with more than 1000 stores across the UK. The results will provide a benchmark for current commitments and actions on curbing plastic pollution.

As well as collecting data about volumes of plastic and reduction targets, the survey intends to look at how retailers are planning to meet their targets, and to reveal some of the challenges faced by retailers and solutions that are being developed. The results will also highlight where further innovation is needed.

Sarah Baulch, Senior Ocean Campaigner, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said: "Single use plastics and packaging are a major contributor to the plastic pollution that is having a devastating impact on our oceans.

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"Retailers need to take a lead in reducing the amount that they’re putting into the market. Our survey will highlight those supermarkets who are demonstrating leadership by reducing their plastic footprint and conversely those who are lagging behind.”

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 non-recyclable and problem 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.”

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Greenpeace UK plan to carry out this survey annually to encourage improved performance on reducing, reusing and recycling plastic packaging.

The supermarket challenge calls on UK retailers to:

1. Introduce transparency by publishing yearly audits of single-use plastic use

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2. Set year on year targets to reduce their single-use plastic footprint

3. Urgently eliminate unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic packaging by 2019

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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