Plastic waste Sainsburys


Hello everyone. Like many of us, I shop at the local Sainsburys because its the only supermarket in the area . After every shop I end up feeling sickened by the amount of plastic waste from products sold there. Yesterday the last straw was whem I wanted to buy a cucumber. The choice was between a whole one from Netherlands wrapped in plastic or a half cucumber from Kent DOUBLE wraped in plastic. I’ve mssged Sainsburys but get bland brush offs. I’m not a natural campaigner so wondered if any of you feel the same way and had ideas about how to tackle this?


My solution is to not shop much and try to shop with all you mention in mind.
I am hugely lucky in that we have two allotments and grow enough to feed ourselves for most of the year and for the rest of the year I try to buy seasonally (doesn’t work!)
Lewisham Market is great for veg - it may not always be supermarket quality but boy is it cheap and no plastic in sight. Meat from the butcher, fish from Soper’s and now we have Beetroot and Beans to compliment BYO in Nunhead plus loads of good local shops all around us…

In terms of campaigning then I too find it daunting and prefer to take my own action but there is a huge wave of awareness building around these issues so see if some established groups need support


I go to Lewisham market for almost all of my fruit and vegetables. Very little is in plastic and the prices are much cheaper than the supermarkets. Things may not conform to the regimented size and shape demanded by the supermarkets but often have more flavour. Although it’s a 20 minute bus ride away it’s usually worth the journey.


It’s easy to demonise plastic but it’s not all bad. Plastic wrapped cucumbers have dramatically extended shelf life, 2 days without, 7 days with. It’s a trade off between plastic and food waste. Plastic managed correctly isn’t an issue. Food waste is criminal but as is not disposing of plastic in the right way; that’s the real challenge.


Fair point about shelf life (avoiding food waste). But a lot of plastic packaging takes 500+ years to break down, and is non-recyclable. It may not be visible in a country like the UK, but it’s highly visible elsewhere

The below video shows the sea around a part of the Dominican Republic:


If only we put it all in modern landfills instead of “recycling” aka shipping our plastic to third world countries where it makes its way in to the ocean and our food. It’s refreshing to see more and more people becoming aware of the scam that is “recycling”.


I felt the same as you Oona, so I switched to buying weekly veg boxes last year. Although I have found that if you make a one off order for cucumber along with the veg box, it does come wrapped in plastic, that possibly has to do with the food waste argument that James1P made. There are also quite a few zero waste places around to stock up on dry goods without the plastic. It does take a fair bit of planning though.


Greenpeace have a campaign on the moment highlighting Sainsburys as the worst out of the big supermarket chains for pledging plastic reduction.

You can email the CEO via Greenpeace (though guess that means Greenpeace then have all your details?).

Greenpeace also did a great spoof video on Sainsburys.

You could get in touch with a local environmental group to see if they are planning any actions?

1 Like

Thanks SClare. This is really useful. Its great to get veg boxes, go to Lewisham market, grown yor own etc, but the reality is that most people will continue to shop in supermarkets because its cheaper, more convenient, they dont have a garden/allotment, have little time, etc etc. So effectively working to put pressure on supermarkets is what I was looking at. Its not just fruit and veg but everything from toiletries to carrots. I’m going to follow up on your suggestions because when I contact Sainsburys directly they just congratulate themselves on their progress , yet most of their own brand produce is packaged in non-recyclable, single use plastics. Will contact Greenpeace :slight_smile:


Oona totally with you - the food waste argument just doesn’t hold up - the whole supermarket industry is predicated on food waste - I.e. for people to buy large quantities in bulk packs only to waste a staggering percentage . Unless you take the action I suspect we all will have to soon - i.e. take containers into supermarkets and local shops and leave the packaging in the shop you will struggle to buy anything that isn’t dangerously wrapped in non biodegradable plastic . I sometimes buy a croissant in Sainsbury , it comes in a plastic bag and I walk out feeling like a pathetic sheep that couldn’t find a way round accepting plastic packaging - usually signed with some vague BS about "check local recycling facilities in your area " i.e. please put in landfill and wait for hundreds of years for it to degrade .

We tend to buy our meat and vegetables locally at Fresh and Fruity and Billings in Sydenham so most packaging avoided but of course use supermarkets too so know what you mean. I am still staggered at the number of people who take 8 plastic bags for their big shop - presumably it wasn’t an impulse shop so wonder how someone who can’t remember to take a few bags can work out what part of the fridge to put things in when they get home or which side up to open a tray of cheese cake . I have heard of of people removing packaging , asking for the manager and leaving it with them as unwanted . Watch out for the very flimsy arguments about shelf life, “what customers ask us for” , hygiene and appearance -as with climate change and pollution there’s always a hundred reasons for people to stop being cretins.


carrots are definitely vegtables! :grin:


And will keep for much longer in a plastic bag, than loose in the fridge.


I notice there is a petition to get McDonalds to ditch it’s paper straws and return to plastic. Remind me when we all lost the ability to drink straight from a glass or receptacle? Whilst slightly off topic I wonder how much Sainsburys plastic waste compares to the global consumption of straws from the likes of McDonald’s etc?

1 Like

Or you could buy only what you need so it doesn’t go off in the fridge.


Try drinking one of their milkshakes without a straw. Though, you could use your fries to scoop it out. And there’s me wondering why I’ve gotten fat…


I tried drinking one through a straw once. Didn’t work so used a spoon.


On Lewisham market yesterday I noticed some peppers on crates…with some type of clear packaging on them!


I can still just about remember as a kid not having a fridge for many years. We’d buy veg from the market without any packaging: straight from the weighing pan into my mother’s wicker basket.

Veg is sold much cleaner these days - all the soil washed off, and often damaged in the process, which means it deteriorates quicker if not refrigerated.

Perhaps ironic that in Sainsbury’s you have buy organic carrots in plastic bags, whereas conventional carrots you can buy loose.