The race is on to stop using single use plastics


EFMP’s Irish partners, FMI, are all too aware of the negative impact that plastic is having on our planet and feel encouraged by the sudden shift in awareness by producers, consumers and retailers in Ireland. A recent Nielson report reveals that 91% of respondents believe retailers should do more to reduce the amount of packaging used on grocery products and almost half of Irish shoppers either actively seek products with minimal packaging (48%), actively seek products in recyclable packaging (46%) or actively seek products with no packaging (46%). The report indicates that Irish people are willing to educate themselves when it comes to environmental issues and recycling but believe it’s the retailer’s responsibility to reduce the amount of packaging used on grocery products.

“Single-use” has been named Word Of The Year and has increased in use four fold since 2013, according to Collins Dictionary experts who have created an annual list of new and notable words. Retailers are striving not to be left behind in the race to be plastic free, and pressure is coming from the consumers, who have been appalled by the plight of the oceans due to the damage being caused by plastic. Richard Attenborough’s Blue Planet series highlights the damage caused to wildlife and ecosystems by plastic, and  this has caused governments to change their policies, and people are demanding changes. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation aims to, amongst other initiatives, eradicate the planet of single use plastic. A few alarming predictions highlighted by the foundation are that by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by weight, and 95% of plastic packaging material – worth $80-120bn each year – is lost to the economy after a single use. They have also found that after 40 years of recycling only 5% of plastic is  recycled.

It’s not all doom and gloom and there are good stories to tell including Irelands first ‘zero waste’ store, Clonakilty, Co, where customers need to bring their own reusable containers. Aldi and Lidl have announced ambitious plastic reduction targets, and both aim to have 100% recyclable or reusable packaging on their own branded products by 2025. Iceland’s own label products will be plastic free by 2023 and they are pioneering a lot of initiatives, most recently, using recycled paper bands for their bananas as opposed to plastic bags and using paper-based trays as opposed to non-recyclable black plastic.

The EFMP have noticed the commitment by their clients to eradicating single use plastic, with some joining causes like The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Plastic Ocean. The Nielsen report suggests that, ‘’the initiatives designed to address plastic pollution are being led by only a minority of companies, and there is much more that retailers and brands can do to better connect with consumers on this issue. Brands and retailers – of all sizes – and the government have a role to play in the reduction of plastics and pollution and in educating consumers about their plans’’.

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