Plastic free aisles could be found in supermarkets by the summer, environmentalists have predicted, as they launched a new social media campaign to pressure retailers into giving shoppers more choice.
The campaign group A Plastic Planet wants to cut down on the needless waste produced by supermarkets, much of which cannot be recycled and ends up in landfill or the world’s oceans.
Organisers are already in touch with major retailers and are hoping to see the first plastic-free aisles within months, which will allow shoppers to buy products loose, or wrapped in paper.
To highlight the plastic problem, they are calling for one million people to make ‘confessional’ videos on their phones admitting to being ‘a plastic addict’ but ‘ready for change’ as part of a new social media campaign, #PlasticAddict.
The group is asking people to spread the word on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and nominate three friends to film videos, and send them to the website A Plastic Planet where they will be displayed on a video wall.
Once the first 2050 videos have been compiled, they will be shown to the CEOs of Britain’s major supermarkets. The figure has been chosen because it is the date when the amount of plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean, according to calculations made by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
John Higginson, who is behind the campaign, said: “The organisation has a single aim. A plastic free aisle in supermarkets. It’s about choice.
“With concern growing over pollution and health, people are demanding a reduction the amount of single-use plastic - and the choice to buy food not wrapped in plastic.
“It’s not saying that all plastic is bad, sometimes it’s very useful. But there is a lot of needless waste. The idea behind the campaign is that people are making a confession, and then vowing to make a change.”
Only seven per cent of plastic is effectively recycled in the UK. The rest of it gets sent to landfill or finds its way into the world’s seas and oceans. A report by Greenpeace last week found that Coca-Cola alone produces 3,400 single-use plastic bottles every second.
In the UK alone, 16 million plastic bottles end up in our environment every single day.
The government is currently considering adding a charge of up to 20p to plastic bottles, which can be reclaimed when they are recycled, in a bid to cut waste. The 5p charge which was added to plastic bags in October 2015 has already seen use fall by 80 per cent. But campaigners want retailers to go further.
A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland said: “We are all of us addicted to plastic. But when you realise the damage plastic is doing to our planet and try to ween yourself off it you realise you can’t.
“Almost everything in the supermarket is covered in plastic. This isn’t about saying I’m not damaging our planet and you are. It’s about saying we all are. We are all responsible and it is all our jobs to get clean.”
“Most plastic packaging is useful for just 12 minutes but it lasts for hundreds if not thousands of years. By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by weight.
“The solution is simple. Let’s use less plastic in the first place. For me it is all about choice. As consumers we are used to choice. We can buy gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free why can’t we buy plastic-free?
“Imagine pushing your trolley down a plastic free aisle, being able to shop without guilt or worry. Who doesn’t want that?”