Supermarkets discover shoppers hate excess packaging as waste campaign gathers force

A A A

Supermarkets have detected considerable annoyance among their customers about excessive packaging, as The Independent's campaign against waste gathers support from politicians and stores.

Research by three of the country's biggest chains, Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's, has found people are irritated at having to throw away so much plastic and cardboard after a shopping trip.

Speaking on packaging, Tesco said a concern for the environment had come through loud and clear in polling. "The thing that emerges from the research is that our customers say: 'Yes, we would like to do more if we can. Just help us to do more'," a spokesman said.

Sainsbury's has passed The Independent an internet survey of 1,922 customers in November which found widespread opposition to packaging. Some 77 per cent said they were trying to reduce food and packaging waste.

Shoppers were asked to respond to the statement: "I have actively tried to reduce the amount of household waste (from food and packaging) we produce in the last year." Some 33 per cent strongly agreed and 44 per cent agreed slightly that they were taking action. In another question, respondents were asked whether they made sure their products and packaging were environmentally friendly and could be recycled or composted. A majority, 57 per cent, agreed they did so. Twenty per cent of consumers said they had decided not to buy something at all because it was difficult to discard.

Women were slightly more likely than men to be cutting down on packaging while people living in the South-west were the most concerned about the environment. The Independent's Campaign Against Waste has been wide-ranging - and successful. We have highlighted the absurdity of over-packaged goods, exemplified by the shrink-wrapped swede we found on sale in Morrison's. A front page questioned why everyday goods, from toothpaste to carrots, are swathed in plastic or cardboard destined for landfill. We showed how other European states were cutting waste: the Belgian deposit scheme for plastic and glass bottles; the in-store recycling bins in Germany; and the habit of Greeks of buying olive oil in large cans rather than small bottles. Our coverage of the thousands of tonnes of British waste shipped 6,000 miles to China was raised in the Commons. At Defra question time on Thursday, MPs demanded to know from the Government why so much waste was being taken somewhere it caused illness and pollution among under-protected workers.

MPs also wanted to know what pressure was being applied to the grocery chains to take action.

Meanwhile hundreds of Independent readers have sent us examples of over-packaged products, which we have featured daily. At the last count, the tally of e-mails in the two weeks of the campaign stood at 1,215.

In their attempt to become greener, stores have announced action on packaging. In the starkest example, Asda, Britain's third biggest supermarket, said it wanted to do away with almost all packaging on fresh fruit and vegetables. Plastic will be removed from 60 lines of fresh produce such as swedes, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms at two stores in the North-west in a trial. Only perishable items such as strawberries will remain in punnets.

Tesco, the biggest supermarket, is planning a move in the next few months. Writing in The Independent, its chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, said the company was approaching the problem of packaging. "The solutions will not be easy, and some may take time," he wrote. "But we have started a conversation with our customers through our community plan, and we know they want us to help them to do more. And so we will."

Attacks on snacks

* Claire Symonds e-mailed to ask: "Why do Walkers only ever half fill their bags of crisps."

Responding, Walkers said: "It is essential that all of the crisps go straight to the bottom of the bag when they are being packed so that nothing interferes with the seal. To ensure this happens the bag must be a certain size. If a crisp were to catch in the seal, the bag would not close properly."

* Reader Pete Ruddick raised an example of unnecessary packaging he found in Tesco on Aigburth Road, Liverpool, this week - a pack of three Galaxy chocolate eggs. "They were in a plastic pack but each egg was also individually wrapped," Mr Ruddick said. "There is absolutely no need for health reasons to wrap these individually, so why do it? The packaging for all three eggs is almost certainly as much as is used to wrap the whole pack." We put his complaint to Masterfoods, makers of Galaxy. It said it "constantly evaluated" the environmental impact of packaging and used 65 per cent recycled paper. It maintained it was right to wrap the eggs individually inside their plastic pack. "This encourages sharing, portion control and discourages over-consumption," a spokesman said.

Do you have an example of absurd packaging. If so tell us and we will highlight it. Please send your tales of woe to: waste@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence