Asda has become the latest British supermarket and the second of the Big 4 grocers to declare war on plastic by pledging to slash its own-brand packaging by 10 per cent in the next 12 months.
Promising to reduce plastic “wherever” it can, Asda plans to scrap 5p carrier bags in all stores by the end of the year, switch 2.4m plastic straws used in its cafes to paper, and introduce reusable drinks cups in its shops and cafes by the end of next year.
The initiatives from UK’s third-largest grocer by market share follows similar anti-plastic schemes introduced by Iceland, the Co-op and Tesco in recent months.
It also comes after Prime Minister Theresa May last month revealed her new environmental strategy, in which she called on supermarkets to move away from plastic and introduce plastic-free aisles.
“Where we are able to go faster and harder to remove avoidable plastics from our products, we will,” Asda chief executive Roger Burnley said.
“Our logic is to remove plastic wherever we can, and where it is required, to make it as recyclable as possible.”
An investigation by the Guardian last month found that the UK’s leading supermarkets create almost one million tonnes of plastic packaging waste every year, and Asda was among those which refused to reveal the exact amount of waste they trigger.
In addition, last year Asda’s former chief executive Andy Clarke urged UK grocers to entirely cease the use of plastic in favour of alternatives such as paper, steel, glass and aluminium.
He said the billions in recycling investment has failed to solve the plastic crisis.
Environmental groups said Asda’s latest announcement did not do enough.
“Asda’s pledge to slash plastic use is certainly very welcome – but why can’t it copy Iceland’s lead and ditch plastics from all its own-brand products?” Friends of the Earth waste campaigner Julian Kirby said.
Greenpeace oceans campaigner Tisha Brown added: “A 10 per cent reduction in own-brand products over one year doesn’t beat Iceland’s pledge.
“If Asda applied the same tactic to reducing plastics as it does to competing on price, we’d be really impressed.”