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Sky Ocean Rescue: Supermarkets urged to introduce plastic-free aisles

Could plastic-free aisles in supermarkets help combat pollution? Large supermarket chains have been urged to adopt this concept. They are also being asked to sell more food in biodegradable packaging, in order reduce the amount of packaging ending up in the sea.

The idea has been proposed by the Plastic Oceans Foundation. It comes as the charity revealed that only 12% of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced globally each year can be recycled. Much of that waste eventually ends up in our oceans, where it is toxic to wildlife.


Sky Ocean Rescue’s campaign has highlighted the issue in a series of videos and television programmes recently. It is their aim to highlight the damage being done to our marine environment and to reduce this through awareness raising.

Charity Trustee Sian Sutherland said: “I think supermarkets want to be part of this change and if you think how long it took for Gluten Free Aisles to become available to customers, organic products to be available to customers, it took years.”

“The issue with plastics is very, very urgent. We need to do something now. We can’t wait until 2020.”

Independent retailer Earth Natural Foods uses hardly any plastic packaging. It also encourages customers to buy loose goods. Owner John Grayson explained: “Where we sell products, both loose and packaged, for instance rice or oats, we will generally offer it at a price cheaper per kilo, if you buy it loose than if you buy it ready packed.”

Environmental campaigners A Plastic Planet have revealed that they will lobby companies such as Tesco, Aldi, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencers in the coming weeks, urging them to offer food packaged only in biodegradable materials.

They say their idea of a plastic-free aisle is “clear, simple and doable”.

A number of major supermarket chains have responded and say they will comment on the proposals, after talks with the organisation take place and the finer details are presented.

Plastic has become an area of focus for many large retail chains in recent years. Our client Ikea recently announced that they have achieved their goal of becoming a ‘Zero Waste To Landfill’ business and have even managed to turn their waste into a business resource. They also stated that by August 2020, all plastic material used in their home furnishing products will be 100% renewable and/or recycled. This includes plastics included in products IKEA sells, as well as textile products, packaging and components.


In 2015 Tesco, another ISL Waste Management client, announced that they would be turning much of their plastic waste into new carrier bags for in-store use. They have also launched various initiatives to deal with food waste reduction and making packaging more sustainable.

However, it is clear from the statistics being circulated by Sky’s Ocean Rescue team that much more needs to be done by the retail market in general. The introduction of plastic-free aisles could be a great way to kick start a plastic revolution.