Don Foster MP*


Supermarket lorries travel the equivalent of two return trips to the moon every day, according to Bath’s MP, Don Foster.

These new figures are released today in the Liberal Democrat’s comprehensive report, 'How Green is Your Supermarket?' setting out best practice and recommendations for supermarkets to improve their environmental performance.

Main ImageThe report is based on responses from the 'big nine' supermarket chains to questions from the Lib Dems on packaging and waste, sourcing and energy use.

Key findings from the report include:

• There is now 1 supermarket per 10,000 people in Britain;
• The big nine chains cover an area equivalent to 15,000 football pitches;
• Customers spend up to £15 billion on food packaging every year;
• In 21 years, supermarkets will have provided their customers with enough plastic bags to cover the whole of England;
• Supermarket lorries travel 670 million miles per year.

Commenting, Don said:

"Today customers are asking more from their supermarkets than “pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap”. They want to know that these companies are taking a responsible attitude towards the environment.

"On sourcing, energy use, and packaging, some supermarket chains are taking the lead, but that best practice needs to be shared.

"The Government must take action to encourage supermarkets to establish national standards, and reach national targets.

"Supermarkets are now a major part of our communities. With one supermarket for every 10,000 people, the big chains have a duty to provide environmentally-friendly alternatives, support local producers and the British organic industry, and commit to saving energy."


Notes to editors follow:

• The full report by Lib Dem Environment Spokesman Norman Baker MP, 'How Green Is Your Supermarket? : A Guide for Best Practice' is available on request.

A summary of recommendations follows:

1. Government to commission a consultancy study on the options for reducing plastic bag use. Australia's Nolan Report provided very detailed work upon which an informed policy decision could be made.

2. All supermarkets to have Bags for Life on visible display at checkout and promote their purchase

3. All supermarkets to have a 'please re-use this bag' message printed on every bag.

4. All supermarkets to offer plastic bag recycling points for their bags and offer financial incentives for their reuse.

5. All supermarkets to introduce biodegradable bags.

6. Supermarkets to consider setting targets for the reduction in the number of bags distributed per year. This could be achieved through measures that many stores are already practicing; training of packers, customer awareness raising, incentives for bring back, and simply asking customers whether they need a bag or not.

7. All supermarkets to report on packaging waste separately to other waste streams.

8. Supermarkets to set targets on increasing the percentage of their packaging which is recycled and decreasing the percentage of packaging sent to landfill.

9. Supermarkets to report on paper recycled.

10. Supermarkets to close the loop on office and store waste for production of own brand paper-based products.

11. Government to investigate whether packaging legislation could be amended to reduce the need for cardboard packaging. For example, could labels be placed on cling film of chilled produce rather than boxes.

12. Supermarkets to introduce 'green trays' as standard to minimise need for cardboard secondary packaging.

13. The Government to carry out more research on LCA of packaging options and look at how to minimise both energy and non-biodegradable waste.

14. Supermarkets to sell bakery products loose rather than in plastic boxes.

15. Supermarkets to continue working on increasing the usage of biodegradable packaging.

16. All supermarkets to set a target for % of organic produce to be sourced from the UK and have it written into corporate policy.

17. Government to review progress of the Organic Action Plan and report on opportunities which exist in particular product sectors.

18. Government to implement rules - similar to the duty of the BBC to use independent producers - that the supermarkets should buy a certain amount of local produce and source a certain amount from wholesale markets. This should start at 5% in 2005 and rise to 10% by 2010.

19. Supermarkets to agree a common benchmark for the definition of 'local food' and to have a dedicated staff member for local buying.

20. All supermarkets to sign up to a procurement policy to FSC standards i.e. WWF +95 Group.

21. Government to oblige all supermarkets to record and report on energy consumption and set targets for reduction according to DEFRA guidelines. The Government should also set targets on carbon dioxide emissions which must also be recorded and reported.

22. DEFRA to set a best practice value for kwh/sq ft which supermarkets can aim towards.

23. All supermarkets to fully engage with civil society led benchmarking exercises (such as "Race to the Top").

24. Government to work with supermarkets via the Strategic Rail Authority to set targets for increasing rail fright miles

25. All supermarkets to set targets on reducing their lorry mileage and increasing delivered units per trip.

26. All supermarkets to be obliged to develop a Green Travel Plan (GTP).

This article published: 09/03/2024

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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