Supermarkets to go ‘nude’ in the UK

Stores are making a constructive effort to avoid using plastic in their products

By Author  |  Published: 22nd Aug 2019  7:29 pm

British supermarkets are starting to go “nude”. Bowing to pressure from environmentally conscious consumers, big brand shops have begun taking steps to strip their shelves of plastic wrapping over concerns about saving the oceans from waste.

“Nude zones” and “Food in the Nude” campaigns are already being rolled out in places such as New Zealand and South Africa, where many fresh fruits and vegetables are grown within relatively easy reach.Now retailers in Britain — where even bunches of bananas are often sealed in plastic to keep them fresh and undamaged during long-distance shipping — are gradually following suit.

“I’ve just done my first-ever plastic-free shop,” said May Stirling, who travelled 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the village of Ramsbury to Oxford for the university city’s “unpackaging” event at the local Waitrose supermarket.The Oxford branch of the upmarket chain was selling 160 types of vegetables and fruits, plus cereals, grains, couscous, lentils, wine, beer and other items in bulk, in what was initially planned as an 11-week trial.

“I just wish there were a few more things I could have got today,” said Stirling, who added in particular that she would have liked more choice of non-packaged cereals for her son.Currently, British stores rely greatly on plastic to ship, store and sell items.The country’s 10 largest grocery chains produce 8,10,000 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging every year, a figure that does not include bags, Greenpeace and the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency said in November.

Materials scientist Mark Miodownik, of University College London, said that plastic had become a victim of a global business model focused on “disposability and consumption”.Part of the problem, he said, stemmed from the marketing of plastic in the 1960s when it came to symbolise modernity and practicality.