Asda pledges crackdown on single-use plastics

A shopper walks past an Asda superstore in south London. Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters
A shopper walks past an Asda superstore in south London. Photo: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Asda is set to roll out initiatives in-store to ensure that it does not cost more to ditch single-use plastics in your food shop. This is a move to tackle critics who say going green comes at a premium.

The “greener at Asda Price” pledge comes alongside the supermarket rolling out a test site for trialling sustainability initiatives.

The shop will operate in Middleton, Leeds and includes 15 refill stations, offering household staples such as Kellogg’s cereals, tea bags, Quaker Oats, Lavazza coffee, Vimto cordial and Asda own-brand rice and pasta.

Cosmetics, shower gels and laundry detergents will also be sold in refillable format. Flowers will also be sold either unwrapped or in paper wrapping.

Packs of cans will get the plastic-free treatment and multipacks will be sold without wrapping.

The supermarket believes this shop alone will save 1 million pieces of plastic per year.

Asda will use the Middleton store to test and learn which elements of its new offer appeal most to customers and can be developed at scale to be potentially rolled out to more locations in 2021.

The company is also committed to generating net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, reducing waste by 50% and having a net regenerative impact on nature no later than 2050.

In 2018, Asda set a weight-based target of 15% reduction in plastic packaging by 2021, with the company removing over 9,300 tonnes of plastic from their own brand products since then. Now it has introduced an additional commitment to remove 3 billion pieces of plastic from own-brand products by 2025.

“Today marks an important milestone in our journey as we tackle plastic pollution and help our customers to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Roger Burnley, Asda’s CEO and president.

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“This is an issue that matters greatly to our customers – our own insight tells us that more than 80% believe that supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce the amount of single use plastics in stores. We want to give them the opportunity to live more sustainably by offering them great product choices and value, underpinned by a promise that they won’t pay more for greener options at Asda.”

Christina Dixon, senior ocean campaigner at the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: “To beat plastic pollution, we need bold system change and innovative approaches to re-use and refill, so we hope the lessons from this store can be scaled across the country and inspire sector-wide change to shift away from unnecessary and single-use plastics.”

The move comes amid a groundswell of unrest against plastic waste. This month, plastic straws and drink stirrers were banned in England.

The ban, originally planned for April this year, was delayed until 1 October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses can be fined by their local authority if they do not stop selling or supplying these plastic items.

The government has also extended the “hugely successful” charge on single-use carrier bags to all retailers from April 2021.

Reports from the end of August showed that since its introduction in 2015, the plastic bag charge has led to a 95% cut in plastic bags sales.

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