Progress is in the air! A supermarket in Amsterdam has dedicated an entire aisle to be completely Plastic-free. That is more than 680 products, dedicated to be packaged in an alternative manner. Their plan, doesn’t stop there, they hope for a national roll-out!
Campaigners have described this historical event to be Europe’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle and a turning point in the war on plastic pollution.
For the past 25 years, a growing global concern on the damage associated with plastic waste in our environment, and more
specifically with our oceans, and food chains. Scientists have released publications warning plastic pollution to be so widespread it risks permanent contamination on the natural world.
In a Guardian Post, they revealed through investigation that the United Kingdom supermarkets were responsible for producing more than 1 million tonnes a year of plastic waste. While the past 12 months alone, campaigners have been calling for all supermarkets to offer a plastic-free aisle.
To quote Sian Sutherland, the co-founder of A Plastic Planet- a group that was responsible for the campaign’s promotion, said the opening of this plastic-free aisle represented “a landmark moment for the global fight against plastic pollution”.
“For decades shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink. A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.”
The aisle will open in the Amsterdam branch of the Dutch supermarket chain named Ekoplaza. The company declared that it will establish similar plastic-free aisles in all 74 branches they own, by the end of the year!
Ekoplaza chief executive, Erik Does, has been working with the campaign for the past month and said the initiative was “an important stepping stone to a brighter future for food and drink”.
“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.”
Some of the 680 plastic-free products include meat, rice, sauces, dairy, chocolate, cereals, yogurt, snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Campaigners say the products will not be anymore expensive than plastic-wrapped goods and will be “scalable and convenient”, using alternative biodegradable packing where necessary rather than ditching packaging altogether.
They add the aisles will be a “testbed for innovative new compostable bio-materials as well as traditional materials such as glass, metal and cardboard.”
The guardian reports that Sutherland said: “There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic. Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.”
Campaigners say the grocery retail sector accounts for more than 40% of all plastic packaging. A recent Populus poll revealed that 91% of Britons back the introduction of plastic-free aisles.
“The Guardian’s 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, with most saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.
Last month Theresa May highlighted the challenge of plastic pollution while setting out the government’s environment policies. The prime minister singled out the role of supermarkets, calling on them to introduce plastic-free aisles. But she was criticised for failing to back up her call with any concrete measures.
Sutherland said campaigners were in ongoing talks with all the major UK supermarkets but, so far, none have committed to introducing a plastic-free aisle.
She added: “Europe’s biggest supermarkets must follow Ekoplaza’s lead and introduce a plastic-free aisle at the earliest opportunity to help turn off the plastic tap.”