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Former retail chiefs call for plastic free aisles

Friday, 22 December 2017 08:26
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Dec 22, 2017  -  The former heads of the UK’s biggest retailers have called for the introduction of a plastic free aisle at supermarkets.  Plastic free aisle Former chiefs of Asda, Tesco, Marks and Spencer, and Argos, along with current bosses at Debenhams and Weleda said in an open letter that while aluminium and glass can be reused easily, plastic packaging cannot be recycled ad infinitum.

“Most plastic packaging items can only be recycled twice before becoming unusable,” they insisted.

“Regardless of how much is invested in Britain’s recycling infrastructure, virtually all plastic packaging will reach landfill or the bottom of the ocean sooner or later.

“It is therefore essential that retailers and packaging manufacturers work together to turn off the tap of throwaway packaging. Retailers should take advantage of the raft of zero-plastic packaging solutions that provide a real alternative to conventional plastic.”

The group said a plastic free aisle would be good for business, as research showed at least a third of consumers base their purchasing decisions on the social and environmental impact of the products they buy.

This is not the first time there have been calls for plastic free aisles, and such views have been met with scepticism by packaging industry bodies and manufacturers.

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has previously criticised the idea, saying that such a campaign deflected from the important role plastic packaging provides.

The material, according to the BPF, increases the hygiene of food while the Co-Op has warned that packaging-free food can increase food waste.

Iain Ferguson, Co-Op’s environment manager, told Sky News this week: “The packaging actually helps to increase the shelf life, for example on cucumbers, we used to sell them unwrapped. We did a full-scale trial in 2012 measuring the waste of wrapped and unwrapped cucumbers and we found that by wrapping the cucumbers we reduced the waste by two thirds.”

The UK’s retailers combined revenues exceed £380bn, and the sector employs 4.6 million people nationwide.

The signatories are:

Andy Clarke - Former CEO, ASDA

Sir Ian Cheshire - Chairman, Debenhams

The Lord Rose of Monewden - Former CEO, Argos, former Chairman and CEO, Marks and Spencer

The Lord MacLaurin of Knebworth DL - Former Chairman, Tesco

The Lord Stone of Blackheath - Former Managing Director, Marks and Spencer

The Lord Jones of Birmingham - Business Leader

The Lord Hayward OBE - Former Chief Executive of the British Soft Drinks Association

The Lord Cameron of Dillington - Former National President of the Country Land and Business Association

The Baroness Scott of Needham Market - Former Board Member, Lloyds Register, Party President, Liberal Democrats

The Lord Clement-Jones CBE - Former Co-Secretary and Legal Director, Kingfisher

The Rt Hon. Lord Foster of Bath - Associate, Global Partners Governance

The Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts CBE - Former Director, Marston’s PLC

Brent Hoberman CBE - Founder, Lastminute.com

The Rt Hon. The Lord Goldsmith QC, PC - Former Attorney General

The Lord Judd - Former Director Oxfam

The Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer - Unicef Board Member

The Lord Rees of Ludlow OM - Astronomer Royal

The Baroness Lister of Burtersett CBE - Author and Professor

Jayn Sterland - Managing Director, Weleda UK

| Source: PackagingNews    ||  December 21, 2017   |||