The Plastic Used In Take-out Food + Drinks Products Is Dominating Global Ocean Litter. Are Supermarkets Responsible?

Over three-quarters of Brits believe that supermarkets are mostly responsible for the unacceptable levels of plastic pollution in our oceans, and in landfill. And rightly so: UK supermarkets produce 900k TONNES of plastic waste.

A new report from the University of Cádiz has revealed that the plastic used in takeout food and drink items is dominating global ocean litter. The report shows that just 10 plastic products accounts for 75% of all items when it comes to the plastic-waste crisis. Scientists say that pollution MUST be stopped at source. Plastic makes up for around 90% of all litter, including items such as: water bottles, beverages and cans.

Whilst the research has certainly put a spotlight on take-away food items, plastics from food bought at supermarkets in the UK still amounts to 900,000 tonnes of plastic waste, according to Greenpeace. However, there are signs that supermarkets are moving in the right direction: since the start of the pandemic, the sale of reusable ‘bags for life’ has increased by 65% since 2017, whilst the production of single-use plastic bags was down by 8% in 2018. 

In light of these trends, Ubamarket (a pioneering app in retail technology), – has embarked on a national research project that showcases exactly why environmental awareness has become such a concern for retailers as of late, and it justifies the need for retailers to implement mobile technology:

  • 82% of UK shoppers believe that the level of plastic packaging used in food and drink products needs to be changed drastically,
  • 57% believe that plastic pollution is the single greatest threat to life, and to the environment,
  • 77% of Brits (representing more than 40 million nationally) believe(s) that no matter how much they recycle, it is the manufacturers and the supermarkets that are causing the most plastic pollution.

With active partnerships with EuroSPAR, Central England Co-Op and Warner Budgens, Ubamarket has now launched a ‘Plastic Alerts’ feature to offer retailers and customers alike, – a solution to combat their sustainability concerns. This allows shoppers to scan every product in-store for information on the recyclability of any packaging. Customers will then receive a “sustainability score” at checkout, to see how they can easily make changes to shop more sustainably. 

Will Broome, the CEO and Founder of Ubamarket, discussed the importance of sustainability moving forward for Britain’s retailers, and he provides a key insight into the role of technology in the movement towards a more sustainable future of retail:

While supermarkets have a long way to go, it is encouraging to see the use of single-use plastics beginning to be reduced in the UK. This is helping us as a society to take major steps towards creating a more sustainable future for the food retail sector, and retail across the board. It is imperative that other retailers take heed of this and work quickly to establish their own sustainability goals and action plan.”

It is my hope that we see more sustainability initiatives in the coming weeks and months, and I would strongly encourage retailers to look into the benefits of mobile technology, for sustainability and increased success.”

You can find out more about Ubamarket, here.