March 23rd, 2018
Environmental campaigners call on the public to join them next month in a day of active protest against excessive supermarket plastic packaging.
On 21 April 2018, the Sick of Plastic Campaign is asking members of the public to join them in taking any excess plastic packaging off items at the checkout during their normal shopping trip and to leave it with the cashier.
Volunteers will hand out postcards outlining six ways supermarkets can reduce unwanted plastic packaging and talk to shoppers outside supermarkets across the country on the day.
The so-called National Day of Action on Plastic Packaging in Supermarkets will be targeted at large supermarket chains, such as Supervalu Tesco, Dunnes, Marks and Spencer, Lidl and Aldi.
According to Marion Briggs, the volunteer National Coordinator of the Day of Action, the public is becoming more aware of the problem through shows such as Blue Planet II which highlighted the “adverse impact plastic has on our natural environment”.
“We’ve reached a tipping point,” she added. “The growth of citizen-led initiatives to reduce plastic shows not only are we sick of plastic, we’re going to do something about it. And we’re demanding supermarkets do too.”
The campaign group, led by environmental groups Friends of the Environment and VOICE, has written to large supermarket chains asking them to offer more items, such as fruit and vegetables and fresh bread, without packaging.
They are also asking supermarkets to make their own brand packaging easily compostable or recyclable and to demand other brands they sell to do the same.
Supermarkets are also being asked to bring in a plastic-free aisle in their stores, similar to what has been done in the Netherlands, and to set up systems whereby consumers can buy items in bulk.
The campaign also wants supermarkets to set up a system for customers to bring their own containers for dried goods.
People are just sick of plastic according to Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth. However, they are even annoyed at having plastic “dumped on us by retailers”, he added.
“There are lots of things shops can do to reduce plastic packaging and we’re hoping people will use this Day of Action on 21 April to show supermarkets that we want them to act,” he said.
The campaign is also calling on the Government to bring in a deposit and return scheme on plastic bottles and cans, and a levy on single-use plastic items like takeaway coffee cups.
They also want to see a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and care products sold in Ireland, and support the Waste Reduction Bill currently under consideration by the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment.