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Tesco plastic campaign

Keynsham shoppers take a stand on plastic at the checkouts

Around 40 people took part in a supermarket shop with a difference in Keynsham, removing all the plastic from their goods and leaving it at the checkouts.

The peaceful protest at the town’s Tesco store on March 24 aimed to highlight the amount of plastic packaging on the food we buy and call for retailers to take action.

Spokesperson Helen Stone said the protesters filled two trolleys with plastic packaging after each purchasing just a small amount of items. The protest was inspired by the screening of A Plastic Ocean in Keynsham last summer, a documentary looking at pollution in the world’s seas, and a small group of friends decided to take action and see if anyone else wanted to join them.

Helen said: “We were very pleased that around 40 local people joined us – a couple even came from Bath. The staff gave us a friendly reception and we handed fliers to other shoppers on recycling.”

The organisers also wrote to Tesco asking it to reveal the amount of plastic it generates, to put more funding towards recycling and to phase plastic out “as a matter of urgency”.

The aim is to now take similar protests to other local supermarkets and inspire other people to do the same in their own areas. A Facebook page – Keynsham Plastic Re-Action – has now been set up to keep people informed of future events.

The scale of the issue is huge, Helen said, but continued: “It does help if people are saying at ground level that this is an issue and we are not happy about it. More and more of the foods we buy at the supermarket are wrapped in plastic and the level is increasing rather than decreasing, particularly with fruit and vegetables.

“We want to see plastic reduced at source rather than having to recycle it and we want Tesco to take action now, not in seven years’ time.”

A Tesco spokesperson said the company has made a number of commitments to tackle packaging, including making all items fully recyclable or compostable by 2025. It also says it will ensure that all paper and board used is 100 per cent sustainable and that packaging weight is halved compared to 2007 levels by 2025.

The company also says it aims to work with suppliers to simplify packaging, supports work to improve the country’s recycling systems and wants to help change customer behaviour by using marketing and promotions to encourage recycling, use of own containers, and choice of packaging purchase.

Helen said it only required a small change to ensure the protesters could leave their plastic behind, with everyone bringing their own reusable bags and containers along to carry their items home.

She added: “We all did it before plastic. When plastic came in we were forced into changing what we think food should look like in our trolleys, so it would be a small change for consumers.”

Images and a film from the protest are online on Facebook – search for Keynsham Plastic Re-Action.

  • Photo: Now and For Always Photography

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