It is becoming increasingly important for us to change our behaviour so that we have a more positive effect on the environment. However, it is not always so easy. With greener products often costing more, customers are reluctant to buy them. And with lots of products coming in plastic packaging, there’s not much customers can do! It is, therefore, important for big brands to change their ways, so that it is easier for customers to be greener.
The problem of plastic
It is estimated that between 4 and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into oceans every year. Once it reaches the ocean, the plastic breaks down into smaller, toxic pieces. These small pieces can be ingested by creatures, harming, and potentially killing them, if it fills their stomachs.
What are big brands doing to help?
Glitter is an ‘ecological hazard’, and as it is used in mass amounts at Christmas time, it can be a big problem. It takes hundreds of years to degrade once it reaches the oceans, so can cause huge problems for the environment. To try and help, big supermarket chains have decided to ditch glitter in their own brand products this Christmas.
- Sainsburys have stated that “customer’s will find no glitter on our Christmas cards, wrapping paper or gift bags”. The amount of glitter used on crackers and other Christmas decorations will also be reduced. Boots have said that they will be cutting out single-use plastic packaging from their Christmas products. This will remove 2,000 tonnes of plastic from their ranges!
- The home director of Morrisons, Christine Bryce, said “Every time a cracker is pulled, or a card is opened, plastic has been used…but just the once. So, we’ve taken plastic out of our festive range this year – so that our customers can enjoy their festivities without worrying about the environmental impact.” Alongside this, Morrisons will remove plastic toys from crackers with the aim of removing 50 tonnes of plastic from its shelves during this year’s festive period. Morrisons have gone the extra mile and said that this move towards more environmentally friendly shopping will also extend to their non-seasonal lines.
This will allow customers who are conscious about the environment to buy festive products without worrying about the environment. But what about everyday shopping?
Asda’s first sustainable store in Leeds
Asda’s CEO and president has said “80% believe that supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce the amount of single use plastics in stores.” Because of this, they have set up and are now trialing a ‘sustainable store’ in Leeds. It is part of a new strategy to reduce the use of plastic without it costing more for the customer. The shop will contain 15 large refill stations, which will offer customers 30 household staples. Asda has partnered with big brands to provide refillable options. Examples include: PG Tips tea bags, Vimto cordial, Kellogg’s cereals, Asda’s own rice and pasta, Persil laundry detergent and many more. “Greener at Asda price” will be a national price promise to their customers that loose goods will not cost more than pre-wrapped.
Additionally, the store will also have 50 fresh produce lines where goods will be sold in loose formats. Asda have also decided to ditch the outer plastic wrapping on canned multipacks.
Asda are also making it easier for customers to dispose of their goods. The new sustainable store will also house a recycling facility. It will allow customers to dispose of items that are difficult to recycle at home. For example, crisp and biscuit packets, plastic toys, cosmetics containers etc. A community zone that will include partnerships with charities will allow customers to donate items to charity, such as unwanted clothes.
Moreover, their clothing line George, will also see some changes. It will supply clothing made from recycled polyester and will provide coat hanger-less denim.
Asda hopes that by setting up this sustainable store, they will save one million pieces of plastic per year. However, they have even larger goals. Asda are aiming for zero carbon emissions by 2040 and want to reduce their waste by 50%. Asda are planning to introduce over 40 refillable products by 2023 and invest in 50 closed loop and circular projects by 2030.
It is massively important for retailers to take a stance when it comes to their impact on the environment. Customers are able to make the choice to buy greener goods but it can be made so much easier for them to do if they are given simple alternatives. What is even more important, is the way big brands deal with the disposal of their goods. Big brands can affect the way people behave with regards to disposing of products. This, in itself, will have a huge impact on the environment.
Asda are setting a precedent with their first ‘sustainable store’. Let’s hope others follow suit to make it easier for people to be greener.