Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Environment

200 MPs Call on UK Supermarkets to Scrap Plastic Packaging

Hundreds of MPs from seven political parties in the UK are urging the country’s major supermarkets to scrap plastic packaging by 2023. 

A letter, written to the heads of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Budgens, and Marks & Spencers, was signed by 200 cross-party MPs. 

The united effort comes after the supermarket chain  Iceland pledged this week to eliminate plastic packaging on its own-brand products by 2023. 

Take action: Fight Waste to Protect Our Oceans

“Vast amounts of plastic are ‘used’ for merely a few seconds before being discarded,” said Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, who spearheaded the united effort along with Sue Hayman, shadow secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs (DEFRA).  

“We have a moral duty to tackle this disposable culture. As such, I welcome the recent announcement from Iceland supermarkets…and I’m delighted that MPs from all parties are supporting my call for other retailers to follow suit.” 

West shared the letter on Twitter, calling for members of the public to retweet if they agree. 

Read more: This Major UK Supermarket Chain Just Pledged to Be Totally Plastic Free by 2023

The letter highlighted Iceland’s pledge, and described it as “an important step forward in tackling the problem of excessive plastic packaging and preventing further damage to our environment.” 

“We are keen to know if your supermarket will also commit to eliminating such packaging by 2023, if not before,” it continues.

The letter further calls on supermarkets to share details of their plans to cut down on plastic packaging. 

“When plastic was created it was hailed as a miracle product precisely because of its toughness and its apparent indestructibility,” it adds. “These very qualities are the reason why we need swift and decisive action to tackle this problem of global proportions and secure the future of our environment.” 

Read more: 9 Brilliant Ways the UK Is Cracking Down on Plastic Pollution

Sir David Attenborough and the “Blue Planet II” production team also got a mention in the letter, “for highlighting this problem with sharp and chilling focus to millions of people worldwide.”

The series last year focused on the changing nature of our seas and oceans, focusing heavily on the man-made changes — drawing attention to the true scale of the impact that plastics and having on marine animals and their environment. 

Every year, 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced globally — equivalent to the weight of the world’s entire population, write the MPs — and of this, it is estimated that over 12 million tonnes of this plastic end up in oceans. 

Read more: McDonalds Is Bringing Sustainable Packaging to All 37,000 Locations

Waitrose also announced on Friday that it won’t use black plastic — which can’t currently be recycled in the UK — for its meat and fish products, as well as fruit and vegetables, by the end of the year. It also pledged that it won’t use black plastic for any of its products by the end of 2019.

The UK government also last week  revealed its 25-year plan on tackling plastic waste , which aims to “set the global gold standard” on eliminating plastic, according to environment minister Michael Gove. 

“We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals, untreated, into rivers was ever the right thing to do,” said PM Theresa May, announcing the launch of the plan. 

Read more: The Long-Awaited Ban on Plastic Microbeads in the UK Is Finally Here

“In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly,” May added. “In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.” 

Some environmental campaign groups raised concern that the plan, with its deadline of 2042, lacked urgency, given the magnitude of the problem. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, which includes actions on climate change, life below water, and sustainable communities and cities. You can join us by taking action on these issues here