Iceland Foods and the UK’s leading environmental campaigners have joined forces, calling on government and businesses to commit to enhanced transparency in reporting on plastic packaging use.
The British supermarket chain has teamed up with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, A Plastic Planet and Surfers Against Sewage to call on government to enforce mandatory reporting on plastic packaging and plastic pollution reduction targets in an effort to make a real change.
Iceland published its own plastic footprint this week, reporting over 32,000 tonnes across its UK and international operations, in 2019. It will continue to publish this information on an annual basis.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said: “Our message is clear. Without transparency, and government-enforced reduction targets, we will not be able to judge whether business actions are delivering real progress. That is why today Iceland is calling on retailers and other businesses to step up and commit to publishing their total plastic packaging transparently, including both own label and branded products.
“For several years now, businesses have been using incomplete information to represent the scale of their plastic packaging, their commitments to change, and the progress being made. We will all be better served by a more accurate and transparent picture on this issue.
He continued: “What we are asking from all major retailers and businesses is straightforward as they are already subject to PRN reporting and will be in the future to the government’s planned EPR scheme, so this will require no extra costs or resources”.
“We have a huge challenge ahead that can only be solved by businesses and policymakers working together, in tandem with fully informed consumers sharing a completely clear picture of both the country and individual businesses’ total plastic packaging. Increased recycling is important but won’t solve the issue on its own. Regulated commitments to reduce plastic pollution are also vital if we are to deliver positive progress in the face of the sheer scale of plastic making its way into the environment.”
In 2018, Iceland made its own commitment to eliminate all plastic packaging from its own products by the end of 2023. To date, the supermarket chain has removed 3,794 tonnes out of the 13,000 tonnes the business was using in January 2018 by the end of 2019 – equating to a 29% reduction.
Iceland’s Walker added: “Our figures show that two-thirds of the plastic packaging we sell relates to brands rather than own label. When we made our commitment to eliminate plastic from our own label products by the end of 2023, we were aware that we would have to take further steps to lead the way in the fight against the scourge of plastic.
“That is why as well as calling on fellow retailers, businesses and the Government, we are also publishing our first plastic packaging footprint to reflect both our impact and the challenge that lies ahead. We can only solve this crisis by working together.”
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “This initiative is an important development in the drive to slash plastic pollution.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Many corporate ambitions for reducing plastic waste may sound impressive, but unless they are clear about how much they’re responsible for in the first place these can be fairly meaningless.
“Ministers must listen to the growing calls for serious action on the plastic crisis by ensuring that bold targets for reducing plastic pollution and waste are included in the Environment Bill.”
Greenpeace UK plastic campaigner Nina Schrank said: “There’s nothing like transparency about a problem to force companies to tackle it, and that’s true of throwaway plastic too. Iceland has made a bold and brave move by publishing their plastic data, and we urge other retailers to follow suit. If UK supermarkets are underreporting their packaging, ocean plastic pollution could be far worse than we thought and wildlife could be even more at risk.
“UK supermarkets are starting to cut the amount of single-use plastic packaging they produce, but we need them to move faster and think bigger. The government can make a big difference by setting legally-binding targets, pushing retailers to cut their plastic packaging in half by 2025. Supermarkets can do it, they should do it, and the government ought to be watching to make sure that they all do it.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019