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Updated: 19 min 23 sec ago

How did your supermarket score in our new plastic league table?

Thu, 2018-11-15 09:41

With company plastic packaging pledges popping up all over the shop since Blue Planet 2, we wanted to cut through the confusion by ranking UK supermarkets in a plastic league table. So back in May we partnered with the Environmental Investigation Agency to survey supermarkets on the full extent of their contribution to our plastic waste problem, and find out what actions they are taking to deal with it. Now the results are in, and our new report, Checking Out on Plastics, is out. So how did your supermarket do?

Supermarkets churn out a colossal amount of single-use plastic packaging. Based on supermarkets’ own data, we now know it’s at least 59 billion pieces of plastic every year. So clearly if we are going to solve the plastic pollution problem we need supermarkets to change how they package their products.

Plastic is a near-indestructible material, and too often it ends up in our environment because there’s just too much of it being produced and used for single use packaging in the first place. As packaging, plastic has a short working life, but as pollution it can last for hundreds of years, doing lethal harm to our sea life along the way. Now we know what it’s doing to our oceans, it simply has to go.

Our league table reflects whether the top ten supermarkets are embracing this challenge, as well as their commitments to engage with their suppliers on plastic reduction – like using their buying power to push big consumer brands to reduce their plastic footprint – and transparency. What we found is supermarkets aren’t stepping up to the plate when it comes to reducing plastic, and they aren’t moving fast enough to remove unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic either:

FIVE supermarkets have no specific targets to reduce plastic packaging

Despite their huge combined plastic footprint, Aldi, Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have no specific reduction targets for plastic packaging. And of the supermarkets that do have targets, most are moving at such a slow pace (just 5% per year) that it would take them 20 years to completely rid their shelves of throwaway plastic.

Only FOUR supermarkets offer customers some options to use refillable containers

The most effective way to reduce reliance on single use packaging is to normalise refill or reuse options – and it’s an approach that both cuts plastic pollution and helps conserve precious habitats like forests. This means embracing approaches like enabling customers to bring their own containers to food counters, and offering more loose or bulk produce. Our recent polling showed 86% shoppers support the idea of supermarkets moving towards using more refillable and reusable packaging. Morrisons is showing the most promise on refillables so far, but there is huge scope – and an urgent need – for supermarkets to scale up on this.

Over THREE billion bags

The ten leading supermarkets are also producing 1.1 billion single-use bags, almost one billion bags for life and 1.2 billion plastic produce bags for fruit and vegetables. This is needless plastic and also something customers can opt out of. To encourage this, and carry forward the success of the 5p plastic carrier bag charge, supermarkets need to remove unnecessary plastic and make using no plastic the easy option by helping customers move to reusable bags.

Twenty twenty TWO

2022 is the earliest target a supermarket has set to eliminate the plastic in their stores that is not widely and easily recyclable. We think it should happen without delay and without exception as alternatives already exist. Given their current pledges to act on this problem plastic, most supermarkets will still be filled with plastics you can’t even recycle for the next seven years. They are even promoting this as a ‘flagship commitment’ to tackling plastic. But recycling alone won’t solve the ocean plastic crisis;  supermarkets must focus on reduction, and remove the most problematic types of plastic as a first step.

ONE thing that’s clear

UK supermarkets have a long way to go, but a year ago these scores would have been even lower – the action we’re taking together is working. Whether you’re one of the 740,000 people who has called on supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic, exposed #pointlesspackaging and tagged your supermarket online, written to a supermarket CEO, or left unwanted plastic packaging at the till; supermarkets are really starting to feel the pressure. Plastic packaging has now become a red button issue for retailer reputations. The scores are disappointing, but the race is on. Supermarkets can still choose whether to lead the solution or stay part of the problem. We’ve got lots planned in the coming months and we’ll need your help. Join our Shoppers’ Revolt here.

The post How did your supermarket score in our new plastic league table? appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

The UK’s Antarctic Ocean Petition Hand-In : Why your support means so much

Wed, 2018-11-14 16:17

Our Antarctic Ambassador, X-Files and The Fall actress Gillian Anderson joined Greenpeace UK on the 9th October to deliver our petition to the UK Foreign Office to Protect the Antarctic.

The decision on whether to establish an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary was made at the Antarctic Ocean Commission (CCAMLR) in Australia last week.

It was an opportunity to create the largest protected area on Earth – a 1.8 million sq km sanctuary, five times the size of Germany.

Unfortunately, the meeting ended in a rejection of this proposal.

While it means that we have to go back to the drawing boards, we shouldn’t forget how much support was showed by supporters in the build up to CCAMLR.

Greenpeace wanted to use this hand-in as an opportunity to thank every single person who has shown their support, with over 350,000 people having signed our UK petition.

Gillian Anderson brought with her a vintage suitcase which contained a mesmeric pop-up photomontage and a number which represented the amount of people who have currently signed our UK petition calling for an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary – 355,655 people!

We do petition hand-ins for many reasons at Greenpeace. They can be very useful for getting media attention on our campaigns, but they are ultimately about making sure that decision makers are aware of what people are asking them to do.

In this case, we called on the UK government to give top priority to the establishment of the Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary in Hobart.

In the weeks leading up to the UK petition hand-in, I had the responsibility of creating and delivering our petition hand-in concept. Presenting our petition as a suitcase was an effective way of showing how Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic campaign has travelled around the country to capture and deliver the voices of over 350,000 people to the doors of the UK Foreign Office.

Many of the stickers covering the outside of the suitcase came from different parts of the UK, to show how people from all over the UK had come together to create a voice which resonated all the way to Whitehall. Hopefully, this week, this voice will have the same effect in the global arena of the Antarctic Ocean Commission in Australia.

We wanted to especially show how an individual act, like signing a petition, can resonate all the way to the global arena of the Antarctic Ocean Commission in Australia.

The international stickers represented the global movement of this campaign (over 2.5 million have signed our global petition!) and to urge governments who haven’t shown their support to do so.

With the help of experienced pop-up makers, we created a concept inside the suitcase that clearly represented some of the most effective aspects of this campaign.

The pop-up was built from a photomontage of supporters holding signs in several different languages – it was a clear sign of this campaign’s global reach. All the around the world, the Antarctic’s beauty is appreciated, and all around the world people have realised this beauty faces a very real threat.

Some of the photos also included other celebrity Antarctic ambassadors ( ‘Stranger Things’ star David Harbour and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ star Alison Sudol) who have use their influential platforms to increase awareness of this campaign. The petition hand-in was also an opportunity to thank them as well.

The visual elements of this event had an important function – to ensure that Foreign Office officials appreciated the Antarctic’s beauty, and to remind them people both at home and abroad were calling on them to say yes to an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary.

Despite their failure to do this, the immense support behind this movement sheds a promising light on what is to come. Our mission to protect the Antarctic is far from over.

The post The UK’s Antarctic Ocean Petition Hand-In : Why your support means so much appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

In pictures: orangutans threatened by deforestation linked to the makers of Oreo

Wed, 2018-11-14 09:32

Palm oil suppliers to Mondelēz, one of the world’s biggest brands, known for it’s products like Cadbury chocolate bars, Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers have destroyed 25,000 hectares of orangutan habitat in Indonesia in just two years (2015 – 2017). Mondelēz buys much of it’s dirty palm oil from the biggest palm oil trader in the world, Wilmar International, whose suppliers are trashing rainforests.

Deforestation for palm oil is a serious threat to orangutans and other endangered species like the Sumatran Rhino. Both the Sumatran and newly discovered Tapanuli orangutan lost more than half their habitat between 1985 and 2007. 

The pictures from our archive document the beauty of the Indonesian rainforest and the threats to its biodiversity.

Help protect the Indonesian rainforest by asking Mondelēz to cut off Wilmar and prove the palm oil it uses comes from growers that are not destroying rainforests.

Tell Oreo to drop dirty palm oil

View of the Meratus Mountains, South Kalimantan. An adult orangutan stands on the ground Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Foundation in Nyaru Menteng, Central Kalimantan. Greenpeace campaigners take measurements in a recently cleared area inside PT Damai Agro Sejahtera, in the border with PT Ladang Sawit Mas, both oil palm concessions are part of the Bumitama group, in Muara Kayong hamlet, Nanga Tayap sub-district, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan. An excavator is photographed beside a drainage canal in recently cleared peatland forest in an oil palm concession owned by PT Ladang Sawit Mas, a subsidiary of Bumitama Agri Ltd. The concession, in Nanga Tayap sub-district, Ketapang district, West Kalimantan, contained habitat for numerous endangered species including orangutans and Müller’s Bornean gibbons. A Borneo gibbon, or Siamang,  is photographed in  the Antang Kalang village, Borneo.
The consequences of land clearance for palm oil production are devastating for the wildlife in the area, including orangutans and monkeys who are dramatically threatened by the lost of their natural habitat. Open flames can be seen on dry tree branches in an area of recently deforested peatland in the PT Rokan Adiraya Plantation oil palm concession, Sumatra. A handout photo from the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) shows a female and her baby of new species Orangutan from Tapanuli (pongo tapanuliensis) in Tapanuli, North Sumatra. A Rhino is photographed in  the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) in Way Kambas National Park., Sumatra Trucks loaded with Fresh Fruit Bunches, FFBs, drive through the haze in Rokan Hilir Regency. Sumatra An aerial shot from a drone shows the landscape of secondary forest inside the PT DAS concession in Ketapang, West Kalimantan. Excavators are seen in the PT Ladang Sawit Mas (Bumitama), oil palm concession, part of the Bumitama group, in Muara Kayong hamlet, Nanga Tayap sub-district, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan. Portrait of a hairy orangutan mother with her baby. Map showing Orangutan habitat and forest loss in Kalimantan, Indonesia

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Categories: Activist News

Now that ‘single use’ is the word of the year, plastic’s days are numbered

Thu, 2018-11-08 13:57

The term ‘single-use’ has become has become synonymous with plastic in the past few years, as evidence gathered by scientists and campaigners has gradually revealed how single use plastic drinks bottles, bags and food wrappers are causing a plastic pollution pandemic.

That single-use is the word of the year demonstrates the seismic shift in public awareness of our plastic pollution problem. And it’s a clear sign that single-use plastic’s days are numbered.

For too long, our focus was on recycling, rather than reducing the amount of throwaway plastics created in the first place. And public awareness of the scale of the problem remained low.But that ambivalence has been blown out of the water by the dramatic scenes of littered beaches, injured sea life, and tangled sea birds, exposed by environmentalists.

Then came the finding that plastic had been found in the world’s deepest ocean trench, as well as in Arctic ice.  And more recently it was even discovered micro plastics are entering our bodies – through food and water, even the air we breathe.

Plastic was under the spotlight, and people began to ask more questions about recycling and if it was working. Journalists exposed that much of the plastic wrapping our food and household products is simply not recyclable. And plastic from UK households can end up being exported to countries like Malaysia and then abandoned in open air waste dumps, or even burned. The stark reality is that only 9% of the plastic that has been produced globally since 1950 has actually been recycled.

It is clear now that our throwaway culture is getting out of control. We are producing more waste that we can handle, and it is piling up at ports as other countries close their door to our mounting rubbish problems.  Single-use plastic is an extreme example of our throwaway culture. Plastic such as this may exist in our oceans for hundreds of years after being used once, for just minutes.

The old phrase ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ still applies as the gold standard in responsible consumption today.  ‘Single-use’ plastic is the first type of plastic that must be ‘reduced’, because it cannot be ‘reused’ and much of it isn’t recycled. To stem the growing tide of plastic pollution we need to break away from our throwaway culture and revisit our relationship with waste.

Many thousands of people have been inspired by the campaign to take personal action to shift away from single use plastic in their own lives, and they expect businesses to match their efforts. Big companies are now coming under unprecedented pressure to reduce their unnecessary plastic packaging, and find better solutions to consumer needs.

Greenpeace supporters in their thousands have been joining others in dumping pointless plastic packaging from their weekly shop at the checkout, and supermarkets have been responding. The government has been taking stock on our plastic problem too, and unprecedented numbers of people responded to its recent consultation on taxing plastic.

The message is getting through. But it’s now time for companies and the government to match the ambition and energy of the public, and act to protect our oceans and future generations from spiralling plastic pollution. That means the government must urgently act to eliminate non-recyclable plastic and set firm targets for year on year reduction of single-use plastics.

Ordinary people have helped push the issue of single-use plastics right to the top of the news agenda and people’s newsfeeds, making single-use the word of the year.  Our power to make consumer choices is important, but we also need the government and companies to act on demand from the public to solve this crisis.  If they don’t and our throwaway culture remains, our plastic use is predicted to quadruple by 2050 – a scenario that would spell disaster for our oceans and the incredible array of creatures that live there. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.


This text originally appeared in Metro on 8/11/2018.

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Categories: Activist News