How can I reduce plastic food packaging waste?

I recently ran a workshop in my day job on reducing waste and being more sustainable at home. The one thing most people wanted to reduce was plastic food packaging. One way to do this is to find a local greengrocers where you can pick up loose fruit and veg. 

Across Scotland around 130kg of packaging per household generates an estimated 650,000 tonnes of emissions per year. Single-use grocery packaging also leads to higher instances of litter, which can be harmful to local wildlife. Single use grocery packaging, from tubs and trays to bottles and bags account for around 13 per cent of all household waste across the country. (Zerowastescotland)

A survey, Checking Out On Plastics III, found that during 2019, the 10 major supermarkets in the UK put 896,853 tonnes of plastic packaging on the market. 

To be fair, supermarkets are making changes as they face increased costs for packaging recovery charges and the new plastic packaging tax. So things are improving but there is still a huge amount of plastic included in our food purchases.

The survey also noted that supermarket targets and reduction efforts are mainly focused on own-brand plastic packaging. This means that the amount of packaging used for branded goods is not really reducing.

So, what should we do as consumers? Once you start to pay attention to the plastic that comes with foods you will find it hard to ignore. I have, on occasion, walked out of a shop with nothing as I couldn’t bear to take home that extra plastic!  You might even want to make a real statement and return all your food packaging to the store as suggested by Greenpeace in our video!

When I spoke to my workmates about reducing their plastic food packaging, most agreed that seeking out a local greengrocers with loose fruit and veg was something they could commit to. Maybe it’s a bit further away but it could be a good excuse to get out for an extra walk. I personally love my local greengrocers. I get good chat and a quick whizz round the shop rather than spending hours searching for things in supermarket aisles.

The next step would be to seek out a local zero waste store and fill your own containers with dry foods, detergents etc. More and more are popping up, which is great! (Find your nearest zero waste shop)

I also have a veg box delivered – everything in paper of course and the delivery boxes get reused. I feel strongly that we should support these businesses that are really making the effort to consider their environmental impact.

But the key is to start with something that suits your lifestyle and you can maintain. Then when it becomes part of your routine you might find you can do more! 

We would love to know what changes you make, or what you find challenging, so leave a comment below or use #startwithonething on social media channels.

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