Most people think supermarkets are 'responsible for plastic pollution'

Garbage pile in trash dump or landfill. Pollution concept.
A pile of household waste at a landfill. (Getty Images)

Most people believe supermarkets and manufacturers are to blame for plastic pollution, a survey has found.

In 2019, UK supermarkets produced 896,853 tonnes of plastic packaging – a slight decrease of less than 2% from 2018, according to Greenpeace.

Supermarkets such as Waitrose have reduced plastic use and committed to increasing reusable packaging and unpacked ranges.

But a survey by retail app Ubamarket found that most UK consumers think not enough is being done.

Items in a supermarket plastic bag, as English shoppers face a 5p charge for plastic carrier bags from today as part of a Government scheme to reduce litter and protect wildlife.
More than half of shoppers think that plastic pollution is the greatest threat to the environment. (PA)

Researchers found that 82% of shoppers believe the level of plastic packaging on food and drink products needs to be changed drastically.

Meanwhile, 77% believe that it is supermarkets and manufacturers that are causing the most plastic pollution, while 57% think that plastic pollution is the greatest threat to the environment.

Read more: A 1988 warning about climate change was mostly right

Will Broome, CEO and founder of Ubamarket, said: "While supermarkets have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see the use of single-use plastics beginning to be reduced in the UK.

"This is helping us as a society take major steps towards creating a more sustainable future for the food retail sector, and retail across the board.

(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)

"It is imperative that other retailers take heed of this and work quickly to establish their own sustainability goals and action plan.

"Implementing mobile technology is one effective way for retailers to get ahead of the curve – not only can it improve in-store efficiency and provide access to useful data for the retailer."

Broome said Ubamarket’s Plastic Alerts feature allows users to shop "according to the recyclability and environmental footprint of different products, and enables the customer to scan packaging for information on whether it can be widely recycled or not".

Read more Why economists worry that reversing climate change is hopeless

Research published earlier this year found that thousands of rivers, including smaller ones, are responsible for 80% of plastic pollution worldwide.

Previously, researchers believed that 10 large rivers – such as the Yangtze in China – were responsible for the bulk of plastic pollution.

In fact, 1,000 rivers, or 1% of all rivers worldwide, carry most plastic to the sea.

Therefore, areas such tropical islands are likely to be among the worst polluters, the researchers said.

Watch: Philippine recyclers turn plastic into sheds