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‘More plastic than ever’ on shop shelves despite vows

SUPERMARKETS are now using more than 900,000 tons of single-use plastic a year despite making commitments to cut down, according to a report.

Seven out of the ten biggest UK grocery chains increased their plastic footprint last year, Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency found.

Only Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury’s achieved ‘marginal’ reductions.

Fiona Nicholls, of Greenpeace UK, said: ‘Supermarkets are failing on plastics and failing their customers.

‘We hear piecemeal supermarket announcements on plastic every other week, but in reality they are putting more plastic on the shelves than ever.’

The chains were given a ranking based on their commitment to reducing single-use plastic, eliminating non-recyclables, engaging with supply chains and transparent reporting.

Waitrose fared the best, followed by Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

Lidl, Asda and Aldi were the three worst performers, and Iceland dropped from the top spot to seventh.

Plastic packaging used by the ten companies was found to have risen from an estimated 886,000 tons in 2017 to 903,000 last year. It was driven by sales of branded products, the report said. The EIA and Greenpeace urged stores to offer packaging-free items or refills.

They warned ‘false solutions’ such as swapping plastic for cardboard or making it thinner are ‘unacceptable’.

Morrisons and Waitrose, which strives to use widely recyclable packaging, have set targets to cut plastic and tested refill initiatives.

And Sainsbury’s, which aims to reduce plastic by half, has introduced reusable bags for loose fruit and veg. Ocado, the convenience store owner Best-One and wholesaler Booker Group failed to respond to the poll for the second year.

Asda said the report reflected an increase in sales, adding: ‘Relative to our baseline year, we have removed more than 6,500 tonnes of plastic.’

Aldi said: ‘We have removed more than 2,200 tonnes of plastic and replaced 3,000 tonnes of unrecyclable material with recyclable alternatives.’

Wind of change… how eco-cows could save the planet

A SWITCH to rearing ‘fuel-efficient’ cattle that break wind less than other breeds could help combat climate change. From next year, farmers will be supplied with details of which types of bull father the best cows in terms of feed consumed and milk produced. And the next step will be providing a rundown of the breeds that emit the least amount of greenhouse gas methane when they pass wind, said Prof Mike Coffey, of Scotland’s Rural College.