Sunday, September 24, 2023

Opinion: New Local Group Asks: “What Are You Doing About Plastic?”

Belper Beats Plastic is a Facebook page which was set up recently with a view to encouraging Belper residents to think about what they can do about the scourge of single use plastic, and what individuals can do in their own lives to make a difference.

The various oceans around the world are becoming increasingly polluted with all manner of plastic waste such as bottles, bags, containers etc. Since plastic doesn’t degrade naturally, it will be with us forever. It does however break down into smaller pieces, which is being eaten by marine life who think its food. This is killing off all manner of fish from large to small. Ultimately, some of the live fish caught by fishermen will end up on our dinner plates as food!

So what can we do as individuals? We cannot save the planet on our own, but each of us can consider what we can start to do about cutting down on the plastic items that we buy. This single action can make a difference if you think of the collective effect of lots of people.

Maybe you can stop buying bottled water, and start using a refillable container, or use an alternative to cling film to wrap your sandwiches with.

I have recently contacted most of the UK supermarkets and asked them this question:

Just wondering what efforts the (Supermarket Name) organisation are making to reduce single use plastic waste. For example, do you offer customers paper bags as an alternative to plastic bags to pack vegetables, and fruit in?

These are the responses of those that replied –


“Thanks for your reply. Increasing the recyclability of plastic packaging is something we are prioritising. We are working within the industry to increase local authority plastic recycling and investigate the use of alternative materials. Plastic packaging actually helps to reduce food waste in the home by ensuring that fresh fruit and veg lasts up to twice as long. If you’d like to know more about what we are doing to reduce waste please visit We hope this helps. Thanks again. Stacey, Aldi UK Facebook Team.”


“In line with our pledge to be plastic-free by 2023, Iceland own-brand food products will be progressively wrapped in a paper-based alternative. These film alternatives will be designed to ensure the integrity and safety of the product in the same way that plastic did. I hope this helps. Kind regards, Lori.”


“Whilst we’re proud to have one of the largest offerings of loose fruit and veg of all British supermarkets, packaging plays an important role in ensuring the quality and safety of our products and is crucial to minimising food waste. However, we’re also aware of the environmental impact it has so, working closely with our suppliers and industry partners WRAP, we’re continuing to reduce the amount of packaging we use and increase use of recyclable materials throughout our range.”


“Paper bags use over twice the amount of energy to make which means it’s double the carbon footprint. We’re currently in the process of reviewing all the packaging we use, across the entire business. We’re absolutely determined to become a zero-waste retailer by 2020 and the most sustainable and environmentally-friendly retailer by 2025. Denise”


“Whilst we cannot entirely eliminate the environmental impact of our business, we remain conscious of it and are constantly taking steps to monitor and minimise it. Our packaging is designed to protect food products from damage and make sure that they reach our customers in excellent condition. Fresh produce is often fragile and many items require robust packaging to reduce the risk of damage and ultimately waste. We do not currently of paper bags. Like the rest of the industry we are looking at alternative options and have a trials running to test different ways of packaging produce with less impact on the environment. -Sam”


“We have investigated replacing these plastic bags with paper bags in the past but the same sized bags in paper take up 6 times more room. So where at the moment we can get 900 bags in our dispenser with a paper bag we can only get 150 paper bags. This has the same increase for transport efficiencies and would take up 6 times more space as well as replenishment and storage in depot and store. There also isn’t an advantage in terms of carbon factor either as paper has a carbon factor of 1.3 but LDPE has a carbon factor of 2.6. Ewan

It is vital we continue to minimise packaging to help reduce carbon emissions whilst maintaining freshness and safety. We’re doing our best to make sure that our own packaging has been reduced by a half compared to 2005. You can read more on this using the link, Aisha”


“Please visit our Tesco PLC website to see what we are doing to reduce our plastic use. TY – Brian


“We have our statement reference our plans to reduce plastic on our website to view, reducing our impact on the environment is really important to us and we know it is to our customers too. We have committed to making all our own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable, or home compostable by 2025. We have performed an extensive review of bags, including using paper instead of plastic. Whilst paper is better in some ways it is also significantly worse than plastic in others. For example, paper bags have a far higher carbon footprint. We will continue to review the most sustainable offering of bags.”

If you would like to get involved with what we are doing then ‘like’ our page and join the campaign.

By Howard Clark

Claire Meese


One thought on “Opinion: New Local Group Asks: “What Are You Doing About Plastic?”

  • Joanna Kirk

    I see that Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys & Waitrose all say that paper bags have a higher carbon footprint than plastic. Is this true? Paper is made from trees, but is recyclable. Isn’t plastic made from petroleum products, which are a fossil fuel or from synthetic materials which are not recyclable. Paper possibly weighs a little more than plastic when considering transport costs but Sainsburys’ argument about storage seems very weak to me. What is LDPE?

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