Sainsbury’s, the company that pays Nigel Farage’s wages by advertising on GammonTV, has received plenty of adverse publicity recently from the outstanding campaign group Led By Donkeys.
And this week their store on the Purley Way was subjected to a further protest, when members of Friends of the Earth and Croydon Climate Action demonstrated by displaying tangible evidence of the damage that the supermarket chain is causing to the planet on a daily basis.
There outside the store, returned to the source of the business’s unnecessary pollution, was the plastic waste from just two households over the course of a month: three trolleys full of non-recyclable plastic waste from Sainsbury’s.
“Plastic packaging is killing our planet – Sainsbury’s customers don’t want it”, read one of the placards.
Staff from the store avoided any conversation with the activists, but according to one of the protesters, “We spoke with a number of customers and everyone we spoke to supported what we were trying to show and echoed the sentiment that bigger companies need to do more to pressure the government and decision-makers to change to sustainable alternatives.”
Many consumers have been trying to reduce the amount of plastic that they use – the now-10p charge for every carrier bag used by shoppers is one of the most effective pieces of public policy on environmental issues ever used in this country. But shoppers often complain that they don’t have a choice in how much plastic is used by the large supermarket chains in wrapping and packaging of products.
“I try my best not to choose food in the shop that has single-use plastic,” one Croydon shopper, Belinda Williams, said while outside Sainsbury’s, “but when online shopping, I don’t get a choice.”
According to Greenpeace, supermarkets in Britain produce 800,000 tonnes of plastic per year. The government claims that roughly half of the UK’s plastic packaging gets recycled, but independent investigations show that in fact “recycling” is used so loosely that it is now applied to any materials fed into the furnaces of incinerators.
In Croydon, 65 per cent of all the borough’s waste now goes into the incinerator at Beddington.
The PR operation at the multi-million-pound supermarket chain, meanwhile, came up with familiar empty platitudes about “ambitious targets” which might, or might never, be achieved. They certainly don’t appear to be particularly ambitious.
The Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, “We have an ambitious target to reduce our use of plastic packaging across own brand and branded products by 50 per cent by 2025.
“Collaboration is key to us reaching our target and we are working with our suppliers and the industry to find alternatives to plastic that protects the quality of our food while minimising our impact on the environment.”
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