The time has come for supermarkets to boldly change their approach to plastic packaging in order to stop the gradual strangulation of marine life in the planet’s vast oceans. You will find plastic at the bottom of the deepest trench on the planet and also strewn across what should be pristine beaches.
Waitrose, the food retailing branch of John Lewis and Partners have made timid steps to banish plastic wrapping. They are trialling, in one store for 11 weeks, making all own-brand products recyclable, reusable or home compostable. They want to unpack fruit and veg, take plastic away from bunches of flowers and provide refill dispensers for detergent wine and beer. Comment: in my opinion all supermarkets should provide water via a dispenser and people can bring their bottles to fill up. They could place a £1 coin into the dispenser or use their smart phone to spend a pound by scanning it which would trigger a flow of water to fill the bottle. It is highly extravagant and in my view completely unacceptable, nowadays, to sell plastic-bottled water. The amount of plastic generated and left lying around is staggering.
The Times leading article makes a very good point which is that the popular mood in the UK, and I would argue elsewhere, indicates that people’s attitude towards plastic packaging has changed. They are looking for change in supermarkets. People don’t want to see food shelves packed with pretty plastic packages.
They say that a few chains are fitting drinking water fountains to allow customers to refill bottles. The changes are neither fast enough nor widespread enough. The top 10 supermarket chains produce 810,000 tonnes of throwaway packaging annually.
Supermarket chains are wary about placing added demands upon their customers in a very competitive market. They are frightened of falling profits but they needn’t be. Their customers are ready, by and large, to embrace change and develop new habits when shopping for their weekly provisions.