In an announcement that will shock nobody, Greenpeace has announced that their most latest piece of research has shown that sales of ‘bags for life’ rose to 1.5 billion last year, as the amount of plastics used by supermarkets increased to 900,000 tonnes.
As the BBC notes, these new findings have increased calls by campaigners for such bags to be charged at a higher price or to be banned completely. With research done by Greenpeace suggesting that the ‘bags for life’ are increasingly being used as a disposable option by customers, due to many supermarkets having stopped selling 5p single use bags all together. Greenpeace has also noted that these ‘bags for life’ must be used at least four times to ensure they contribute less to climate change than the single use bags that they were brought into replace.
But why the focus on these bags for life? Surely, if people are using more of these sorts of bags for their food shopping this is a good thing, as it means less plastic is being disposed of in the short term. That would be a reasonable thought, but these findings come with the added news that instead of cutting plastic usage as they promised, Supermarkets are instead increasing their use of plastic.
Remember that 900,000 tonnes figure mentioned at the beginning of this article? That’s how much plastic usage has gone up for supermarkets in the past year. That’s a shocking figure.
Supermarkets have as with many other companies jumped onto the climate change bandwagon and have made statements professing a desire to reduce their carbon footprint and to improve the environment. The evidence suggests that not only are they failing to do this, they are appearing to deliberately go back on their word.
It might simply be the easiest option to continue to use plastic for packaging of products, as it prevents retailers and their suppliers from having to find another potentially more expensive way of packaging items. But really, it just leads to the supermarkets ending up with egg on their faces.
If you’re going to claim you want to reduce plastic usage you have to actually try and find means of doing this. As the BBC notes, only Tesco has actually gone fully out there and told suppliers that they must cut plastic usage or risk seeing their products removed from shelves. Something that neither Waitrose, Marks and Spencers or other big shopping chains have done.
Though to their credit Waitrose and Morrisons have both begun the process of trying to cut out packaging from their own brand products and are now beginning to use refilling stations for products such as coffee, rice and pasta.
More still needs to be done and the supermarkets need to have conversations with their suppliers about how they are going to be packaging their products and the packaging methods that are actually used. Otherwise, you cannot expect the paying customer to take you seriously when you talk about trying to combat Climate Change.