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Supermarkets warned against kneejerk reactions to plastic reductions

Supermarkets warned against kneejerk reactions to plastic reductions


A new report by the Green Alliance has warned UK retailers that replacing plastics with other materials could increase carbon emissions. Prepared for the Circular Economy Task Force, the report, titled ‘Plastic Promises: what the industry is really doing about packaging’, warns against kneejerk responses by the food and grocery industry to plastic reduction demands and the potentially harmful consequences.

The authors of the report interviewed anonymous representatives from five of the UK’s leading supermarkets, as well as other figures from the food industry. It paints a picture of a retail sector rushing to ditch plastics without considering the consequences.  

One supermarket figure told the Green Alliance: “The past year has just really pissed me off no end with companies coming out and boasting about not using plastic, even when they’re in single-use glass, and their carbon emissions are going to be off the scale.” 

Another supermarket representative said: ‘There are people who would like us to take plastic out of the soft drinks section and replace it with something else like glass and Tetra packs, which aren’t recycled.’

The Green Alliance’s report also highlights the fact that despite the retailers’ initiatives, the overall amount of plastic on their shelves has not changed significantly.

TAGS: Retail, Green Alliance, plastics

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Italy’s ‘Plastic Tax’ to be reformed

Italy’s ‘Plastic Tax’ to be reformed, Credit image: Marco Verch, Flickr
Credit image: Marco Verch, Flickr



The impact of Italy’s new Plastic Tax is expected to be less than originally intended as it will not concern compostable materials or those produced with recycled plastic (R-Pet), the use of which is spreading in packaging for fruit and vegetables. Following parliamentary debate, other changes to the tax are also in the pipeline. The new tax was originally set to tax plastics by €1 per kilo; but this is set to be cut to between €0.40 and €0.80 per kilo. The new tax is expected to generate revenues of €1.1 billion in 2020 for the Italian government. As for the impact on the private sector, the Plastic Tax is estimated to cost Coca-Coca Hbc Italia approximately €40 million each year.

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Tesco to remove 1 billion pieces of plastic


UK retailer Tesco has stapled its green credentials to its mast and laid down a challenge to its rivals by pledging to eliminate plastic in its packaging of many own-brand products. The pledge cites a commitment to remove one billion pieces of plastic from its products by the end of 2020. The initiative is part of the retailer’s commitment to its 4Rs strategy: Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

The items that will affected by the drive include: plastic bags used to pack loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items, replacing them with paper ones; plastic trays for ready meals; secondary lids on products such as cream, yoghurts and cereals; sporks and straws for snack pots and drinks cartons; as well as 200 million pieces of plastic used to pack clothing and greetings cards.

According to a company statement: “If packaging can’t be recycled, it will have no place at Tesco.” The retailer announced that in 2019, it had removed over 4,000 tons of materials from 800 lines.

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Aldi trials reusable bags

Aldi trials reusable bags, ct. Aldi
Credit photo: Aldi



Aldi has joined its rivals in the drive to reduce plastic consumption by trialling reusable bags for its fruit and vegetables. Instead of plastic bags, the retailer will offer drawstring bags made from recycled plastic bottles costing 25p each. The initiative will affect over 250 stores in the UK and follows a similar project launched by Sainsbury’s. 

Aldi has pledged to reduce plastic packaging by 25% by the end of 2023. If rolled out nationally, it is estimated that the project would remove the equivalent of 113 tons of single-use plastic from circulation each year.

Managing director of corporate responsibility at Aldi, Fritz Walleczek, said, “We are hopeful that our customers will embrace these new reusable produce bags whenever they’re buying loose fruit and veg.”

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Grupo Armando Alvarez launches more flexible system

The Armando Alvarez group is adding a new product to its order list – Flex Alvatank, a flexible system that can accumulate quantities from 1-500 cubic metres of any liquid.


The Armando Alvarez group is known as a manufacturer of high quality plastics, both rigid and flexible, for covering greenhouses, as well as of mulches for soil-grown crops and soil disinfection films, among others.

And now it is adding a new product to its order list.

“We are currently launching our Flex Alvatank, a more flexible system that can accumulate any quantity from 1 to 500 cubic metres of any liquid,” said José Herrera from export sales.

Grupo Armando Alvarez exports to over 90 countries, spanning South and North America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and has annual revenue of €700 million.