In February 2018 Sustainable Carlisle started a plastics clever campaign by writing to all the main local supermarkets and their HQ’s. (See letter below). There were a number of interesting responses, mostly positive, and we have seen some changes in their practice. More needs to be done however and we will continue to monitor the supermarkets and let them know we are willing to help them change.
As you will be aware, the issue of plastics use and its consequences for our environment has been rapidly rising on the national and international agenda.
We here at Sustainable Carlisle are working with other local and national organisations to look at ways to reduce plastics consumption and are involved in planning a series of campaigns to raise awareness of the issue further with a view to adopting practical changes in our behaviour as a society. We are writing to ask you to join us in this endeavour.
As a first stage we are particularly focussing on single-use plastics and those used in unnecessary packaging especially for food products and in the catering sector as well as looking at ways to improve the proper recycling of those that are used.
We recognise that this is a monumental task and offers some serious challenges and with this in mind we would value an opportunity to open up discussions with you on how we can work together and support each other to resolve this escalating problem.
From talking to consumers , we have identified a small number of areas which we think could be a starting point and would appreciate your ideas and comments:
- The plastic packaging of fruit and vegetables. In most cases this seems highly unnecessary especially in the case of produce such as bananas, apples, potatoes etc. We understand this may be for the convenience of suppliers but would ask if you as a company are able to enter into negotiations with them to find a sustainable alternative and offer our full support for such an initiative. In the meantime would it be possible to supply containers of some sort at check-out desks where customers can leave unnecessary plastic packaging that could then be more properly managed as part of your recycling scheme?
- The use of rolls of plastic bags for produce. Again we realise these may be convenient but could paper bags or some other alternative be found as many smaller shops are now doing?
- The use of plastics for drinks. This is one of the main problems we are facing today as millions of plastic bottles find their way into our oceans. Some shops are looking at ways to reduce this by, for example, bringing back glass bottles at least for some products and introducing deposit schemes. There is a growing consensus that we must act on this sooner rather than later and again we would support positive initiatives.
The use of plastics is a particularly damaging practice in the larger area of general waste production and it is important that we work together to stop the degradation of our environment. This letter is an attempt to start that process within our community and we would be very happy to meet and have discussions with local branches .
We look forward to your reply.
By early summer we were preparing to launch a local bottle refill scheme. We raised some money and bought some metal bottles with our logo on them which we gave out for a small donation at our monthly Freegle stall gathering pledges from folks to reduce their plastics use (especially single use plastics), disseminated information and engaged in many conversations.
This was followed over the summer by setting up a Bottle-Refill scheme in partnership with our local Carlisle One World Centre and with help and support from the City to Sea project in Bristol and around 30 city centre shops now display the refill logo. We hope to slowly build on this success!