End Plastic Packaging of Fruit & Vegetables in Supermarkets

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We are four 6th year students in Newpark Comprehensive School, Blackrock. This is our Citizenship Project as part of our Leaving Certificate Politics and Society course.

We visited three local supermarkets, and found the following the data:

  • SuperValu - 80.2% of fruit and vegetables were packaged - 0% had a recycling symbol.
  • Aldi - 84.3% of fruit and vegetable were packaged - 0.8% had a recycling symbol. 
  • Tesco - 84.7% of fruit and vegetables were packaged - 9.3% had a recycling symbol.

We all agreed that once you brought home your fruit and vegetables you would remove the packing and bin it. There would be no further use for the plastic packaging.

Even for loose fruit and vegetables, it's necessary to put them in the single-use plastic bags provided for them to be weighed and brought to the check out. This means even customers who make efforts to avoid single-use plastic are obligated to use it anyway.

  • Plastic can take up to 1000 year to decompose. 
  • The world produces nearly 300 million tonnes of plastic a year, half of which is single-use.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped in the ocean each year.
  • Estimates are that around 50% of plastic is used just once and thrown away. 
  • Packaging is the largest end use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage.
  • More than one million bags are used every minute. 
  • A plastic bag has an average “working life” of 15 minutes.
  • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century. 
  • Every minute, one rubbish truck of plastic is dumped in the ocean.
  • By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

Single-use plastic packaging fruit and vegetables is a severe and major danger to our environment. We know that this single-plastic packaging will end up in land fills or the ocean, and take up to a millennium to decompose.

Our suggestions on the cutting down of single-use plastic packaging of fruit and vegetables:

  • Eradicate the use of plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables.
  • Instead of plastic bags for loose fruit/vegetables, supermarkets should use paper bags.
  • If companies insist on the packing of fruit and vegetables, packaging must be recyclable.

India has banned all forms of disposable plastic in it’s capital; bags, cups, cutlery and other forms of single-use plastic are now banned in Delhi. The Marriott Hotels (the world's largest hotel chain) has removed plastic straws from all 60 of their properties in the UK. Although the Marriott Hotels action is not as extreme as India’s, they have made a small but significant step in reducing the mass amounts of single-use plastic and we believe that Irish supermarkets can also make an important difference by eradicating single-use plastic packaging on fruit and vegetables.

We must emphasise the importance of change; the cutting down of single use plastics. This is only a small study on fruit and vegetables alone in Irish supermarkets, imagine how much other products are packaged in single-use plastic and consider how much damage they are to our environment.

We believe it's very important for us, as Irish citizens, to raise awareness and to take a stand against single-use plastic.

With this petition we are trying to reach:

  • Denis Naughten - Minister for Climate Action and Environment
  • Martin Kelleher - Managing Director of SuperValu
  • Giles Hurley - CEO of Aldi, Ireland and UK
  • Andrew Yaxley - CEO of Tesco Ireland

Regards,

Liadh Blake, Stephen Gordon, Séamus Hurley and Ella Walsh.



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