Greenpeace says Sainsbury's is 'worst' supermarket for reducing plastic waste

Sarah Young
Friday 29 March 2019 11:08
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Greenpeace has criticised Sainsbury’s for failing to reduce the amount of plastic waste it produces.

The environmental charity has targeted the UK’s second biggest supermarket after it was found to be “the worst in class” in a 2018 survey of retailer's plastic policies.

According to Greenpeace, Sainsbury’s has made the least progress out of the top 10 UK supermarkets, pledging to cut just 77 tonnes of plastic packaging, compared to Asda’s 6,500 tonnes and Morrison's 3,766 tonnes.

As a result, the organisation is now calling for Sainsbury’s to set yearly plastic reduction targets, and start by eliminating unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by 2020.

Elena Polisano, ocean plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, says: “Sainsbury’s knows that plastics pollute our oceans and harm wildlife. They know that customers care about cutting plastic.

“And they know their competitors have outdone them on plastics reductions measures. But they remain worst in class.

“If supermarkets fail to cut their plastic packaging, they’re sending pollution on a conveyor belt that could end up in our rivers and seas. This has to stop.

“Sainsbury’s must eliminate unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by 2020.”

However, Sainsbury’s has hit back at the claims stating that it has “ambitious targets” to reduce plastic from its stores.

“Greenpeace says we have pledged to reduce plastic by 77 tonnes and, in fact, we will reduce plastic by well over 2,400 tonnes in the next 12 months alone,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson tells The Independent.

“For Sainsbury’s branded products, 67 per cent of the plastic that we use is widely recyclable and 100 per cent will be widely recyclable packaging by 2025.

“We have ambitious targets to continue to reduce plastic across our product range.”

Sainsbury's also provided a breakdown of its plastic pledge, revealing that it plans to remove plastic from the following products over the course of the year:

  • 175 tonnes – reducing plastic content from water bottles
  • 5 tonnes – switching plastic trays to wooden on plants and flowers
  • 65 tonnes – ready meals
  • 50 tonnes - removed plastic stems from cotton buds, replacing them with a biodegradable option
  • 37 tonnes – removed plastic straws
  • 131 tonnes – removing plastic bags from organic bananas; cauliflowers, easy peelers, brassicas and tomatoes
  • 77 tonnes – removing plastic sleeve from greetings cards
  • 55 tonnes – reducing thickness of clothing bags on underwear and shirts and removing plastic sleeves from slippers
  • 1000 tonnes – removing plastic sleeves from clothing
  • 800 tonnes – reusing and recycling clothing hangers
  • 14 tonnes – removing plastic cups and cutlery from all offices
  • 12 tonnes – reducing weight of olive oil bottles
  • 61 tonnes – changes to poultry packaging

TOTAL = 2,482 tonnes

The supermarket also told The Independent that from 24 April 2019, it will be offering 25p discounts on hot drinks across all of its cafes when a customer brings a re-usable cup, and that it encourages customers to bring in Tupperware containers to its counters.

In response to Sainsbury's comments, a Greenpeace spokesperson told The Independent: “We are bemused at the claim from Sainsbury’s that we did not check our facts with them, as we checked these figures with them in email correspondence this week.

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“The figure Sainsbury’s has provided to journalists has never been announced, and mostly relates to clothing. We made clear this was outside the scope of this analysis because not all supermarkets offer clothing ranges, and it’s only fair to compare like for like.

“We stand by our analysis, and have contacted Sainsbury’s to point out their inaccuracy. We urge Sainsbury’s to focus their energy on reducing plastic packaging.”

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