Iceland managing director Richard Walker calls on government to make plastic packaging tonnage disclosure mandatory in order to tackle plastic pollution crisis
Iceland has for the first time unveiled the full scale of plastic packaging used for both products on its supermarket shelves and throughout its business, as it urged other retailers and companies to be more transparent about their impact on the UK's growing plastic pollution crisis.
In a move widely praised by green campaign groups, the grocery chain yesterday published a report on its own plastic footprint complete with data on the amount of plastic packaging used throughout its UK operations, in a bid to spur greater transparency across the wider retail sector on the issue.
The figures - descibed by Iceland's own managing director Richard Walker as "horrific" - show the firm's full plastic packaging footprint amounted to more than 32,000 tonnes in 2019, which included 1.8bn items of packaging used in stores and for deliveries, as well as almost 93 million plastic bottles. It came as rival German supermarket Lidl also yesterday published similar data for its UK operations for the third year running, detailing the plastic packaging for branded and own-label products used in its stores and deliveries. Last year, Lidl's total plastic packaging footprint stood at just over 60,000 tonnes, the figures show. Walker said it was "time to be honest" as "you can't manage what you can't measure", and called on other firms to commit to publishing full figures on their total plastic packaging use, rather than releasing partial figures that he argued served to obscure the full extent of the problem. He also urged the government to make plastic packaging disclosure a legal requirement for businesses, in addition to enforcing targets to reduce plastic use. It follows research earlier this year that warned many of the strategies supermarkets are employing to pursue their plastic reduction goals are "disjointed and potentially counterproductive", while highlighting the key role for governments to take a leadership role in developing a coordinated and sustainable solution to the plastics crisis. "For several years now, businesses have been using incomplete information to represent the scale of their plastic packaging, their commitments to change, and the progress being made," Walker said. "Our message is clear. Without transparency, and government enforced reduction targets, we will not be able to judge whether business actions are delivering real progress. Increased recycling is important but won't solve the issue on its own. Regulated commitments to reduce plastic pollution are also vital if we are to deliver positive progress in the face of the sheer scale of plastic making its way into the environment."