Debate

The big plastic clean-up – are big brands and supermarkets doing enough?

Nestle today (10 April) announced that it will “aim for 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025”. It’s the latest in a long line of big names to pledge their commitment to reduce plastic waste, which makes up around 90% of all rubbish floating on the ocean’s surface and kills 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.

Iceland became the first major retailer at the start of the year to promise to eliminate plastic packaging within the next five years to help put an end to plastic pollution, which has become so large scale, it will take thousands of years and significant investment to clean up or at least offset its effects.

Asda followed suit in February by pledging to scrap 5p carrier bags across all its stores by the end of 2018, stop using plastic drinking straws in its cafes, and introduce reusable drinks cups by 2019. Asda has also promised to reduce its own brand packaging by 10%.

But Greenpeace UK says its isn’t enough.

Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “As the largest food and drink company in the world Nestle should be leading on sustainable packaging, but their new commitments lack ambition. Greater transparency, a higher proportion of recycled content, and support for recycling are all welcome, but Nestle needs to do more to move the needle towards the elimination of problem plastic.

“A rubbish truck load of plastic enters the ocean every minute and huge multinationals selling plastic products need to play a bigger part in turning the tide. Nestle should remove non-recyclable plastic far sooner than 2025, and phase out all single-use plastic packaging.”

While your plastic footprint may not be as significant as the big brands and large retailers, there are lots of ways you can reduce your use of disposable plastic too.

Where does the money go?

Ever wondered where the proceeds from the 5p Scottish carrier bag tax go? We caught up with some of the supermarkets to find out.

Before phasing them out, Aldi shared more than £4.5m from the sales of its 5p carrier bags with the RSPB, Teenage Cancer Trust, Farm Africa, the Red Cross and smaller regional charities.

Lidl stopped the sale of single-use carrier bags in store from July 2017. Prior to that, the supermarket supported its national charity partners, Clic Sargent, the NSPCC, and Keep Britain Tidy.

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