Consumers back ‘plastic-free aisle’ in grocery stores

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Consumer support for a “plastic-free aisle” in grocery stores is overwhelming, according to an environmental campaign group.

A Populus survey of 2,000 UK adults, commissioned by A Plastic Planet, showed 91% of people would back the introduction of a supermarket aisle that features only products that were free of plastic packaging.

The findings come just a few days after environment secretary Michael Gove said he wanted the government to introduce a plastic bottle deposit scheme “as soon as possible”. He told Sky News that such a scheme would require the “enthusiastic embrace” of all retailers.

The Populus survey said 81% of people were concerned “about the amount of plastic packaging that is thrown away in the UK”. Support for a supermarket aisle featuring only goods not wrapped in plastic packaging was highest in the north-east of England, where 96% of respondents backed the move.

The survey revealed women were slightly more likely to support the introduction of plastic-free aisles than men (92% compared to 91%), while people aged 65 or over were more likely to advocate the measure than any other age group (94% compared to 89% of 25- to 34-year-olds). Levels of concern were highest in Wales, with 86% of adults saying that they were worried about the amount of packaging that was thrown away.

A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland said: “It’s becoming increasingly clear the British public wants a fresh alternative to goods laden with plastic packaging as too much of our plastic waste ends up in oceans and landfill.

“Consumer demand for products that generate less plastic waste is higher than ever. A plastic-free aisle would help supermarkets meet the needs of shoppers who are fed up of buying products covered with layer after layer of throwaway plastic.”

Professor Hilary Kennedy of Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, said: “There is a growing body of evidence that plastic waste poses a global challenge, directly affecting marine life and ecosystems. A plastic-free aisle in supermarkets would help encourage a reduction in the amount of plastic waste being dumped in our environment.”