Plastic free aisle is a 'world first'

By: Clare Fischer
Date posted: 28 February 2018

MCS has joined other plastic campaigners to support what’s being described as the world’s first plastic-free aisle in a supermarket.

Shopping Aisle

A plastic-free aisle will help consumers to reduce their own single-use plastic mountain.

Campaigners, including MCS, writing in today's Guardian newspaper

680 products, including meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, fruit and vegetables, will be on offer in the Amsterdam Jan Pieter Heijestraat store of the Ekoplaza organic supermarket group. The aisle is the brainchild of British-based campaign group, Plastic Planet.

In a letter published in The Guardian today, Dr Laura Foster, MCS Head of Clean Seas and Luca Bonaccorsi, MCS Director of Communications and Engagement, joined with other plastic campaigners including Friends of the Earth, Surfers Against Sewage and City to Sea to demand that other European supermarkets follow the Ekoplaza’s example ‘without delay.’

The letter said that plastic packaging has no place in food and drink: ‘There is no logical basis for wrapping something as perishable as food with something as indestructible as plastic. With recycled plastics today accounting for just 6% of total plastics demand in Europe, it’s clear that we cannot recycle our way out of the plastic problem. Food and drink plastic packaging does not belong in a circular economy given that it is difficult to reclaim, is easily contaminated, and all too often proves valueless.’

The signatories suggested that shoppers were unable to dip out of single plastic usage: ‘Plastic has replaced so many forms of packaging that consumers wanting to reduce their plastic footprint at the moment find it impossible to do so.’

And the letter concluded: ‘A plastic-free aisle will help consumers to reduce their own single-use plastic mountain.’

Last year a survey for A Plastic Planet revealed that more than nine out of 10 British shoppers supported the introduction of plastic free aisles in supermarkets.

A Guardian investigation into supermarkets’ plastic footprint found that leading UK stores create more than 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year. However Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Asda and Lidl all refused to divulge their plastic output to the newspaper, with most saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.

Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does said: “We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging.

“Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.”

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

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