The big shop

The big shop

I’ve been playing supermarket sweep this week, and it’s safe to say not many items made it into my basket…

I’ve heard lots in the news lately about some of the big supermarkets making promises to reduce their plastic packaging. Iceland were the first to announce this year that they are going to remove all plastic packaging from their own brand products by 2023. Others were soon to follow, with Sainsbury’s promising a 50% reduction by 2020, and Tesco and Asda hoping to make all their packaging recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Many organisations, including supermarkets, have signed up to ‘WRAP’s Courtauld 2025’ agreement. This ‘Plastics Pact’ hopes to make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 with the hope of eliminating single-use plastics completely.

These supermarkets have made a good start, but they seem to be concentrating for the moment on cutting down on specific plastics, rather than ridding unnecessary plastics completely - Tesco for example released their new avocado packaging in February this year, but is it really necessary?

I did however, hear about Morrisons new incentive announced earlier in May. They’re encouraging customers to bring their own containers for meat or fish from the deli counter, saving items from being wrapped in plastic.

Reducing the damage caused by plastic is one of the most challenging issues society can address. Because we make most of the fresh food we sell, we’re in an important position to make changes to our packaging.
David Potts
Chief executive of Morrisons

It’s a great idea, but I don’t have a Morrisons supermarket near me. I thought it might defeat the point a little if I started travelling further to do my big shop, so I thought I’d try it at my local – Tesco.

Starting at the fruit and veg and there’s a fair amount of loose items available, though I can’t dodge the plastic stickers on fruit, like the ones telling me my Braeburn is a Braeburn. All my favourite foods (carbs) were very difficult to find plastic-free. Bread was either wrapped in plastic or fresh in a paper bag with a plastic window. Pasta and rice were a definite no-no, and I couldn’t find any biscuits to go with my loose leaf!

Next up - the deli counter. I got my Tupperwear at the ready and headed over for a lovely chunk of mature cheddar. Those beady eyed among us will notice there is no cheese in my supermarket sweep picture. Unfortunately, they told me that each slice had to be individually wrapped in plastic to prevent contamination, so any issues could be confined – health and safety.

So no cheese, BUT, it’s not all bad news…

The team behind the counter continued to tell me that Tesco are currently working on a new, paper-based wrap that customers will be able to recycle or compost. This is only happening because customers, like you and me, have been asking for change in stores across the UK.

Staff behind the deli’s, including those in the Lincoln store, started an online forum on their intranet which has made its way up to the big guys at the top, and they’re listening.

This is great news. It means us consumers really can make a difference.

We need to keep putting pressure on these bigger stores. Any action, no matter how big or small, will help. Even is all we do is ask for “cheese in my Tupperwear please!”.

After all, every little helps!