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Tesco, plastic pollution for profit.

By EMEditor | 14 February 20 06:19pm | News and Views

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Supermarkets have a massive impact on everything, us as individuals, our society, and the entire World. The food production methods of humanity, global shipping and logistics, farming and agriculture, the power these companies and corporations wield is literally life transforming, civilisation shaping, they are influential beyond our awareness.

One of the major problems facing the World is our love of plastic. I’m not talking about the credit and debit cards in our wallets, I’m talking about the plastic that wraps everything, comes with everything, often has a functional life of a few moments, and lasts almost indefinitely in the environment. 

Given that it didn’t even popularise until the 1960’s there’s already a huge problem. If you multiply the amount of plastic created each year by the number of years it lasts, you get a number that’s almost infinite. Unsustainable has never been more literal than our current use of plastics. We could literally wrap the planet in it, and that’s not too far off what we’re doing.

It’s slightly ridiculous that a plastic bag will ‘outlive’ our civilisation. It speaks volumes.

Supermarkets have a lot to answer for. How difficult would it be for them to have ‘minimum packaging’ aisles, where people actually had the choice of buying produce that wasn’t plastic wrapped? It would be easy. And popular. Very popular.

So why don’t they?

Here’s one reason. Infact, it’s the only reason. Profit. By wrapping produce in plastic, they can charge more. Here’s a simple example. Tesco. Ginger. Loose, £3.75 per kilo. Tescos. Ginger. In a small plastic bag. £7.92 kilo.

More than twice as expensive to buy the same product, in a plastic bag, that will have no positive impact whatsoever.

Tescos are doubly deceptive with this, on their website they claim the loose ginger will last 2+ days, but bagged, 1+ week. This is blatantly false, especially as the bag has air holes in it, and fresh ginger lasts weeks, not 2 days. In truth, the bagged ginger will dry out faster because it’s been cut. But they charge us more than twice as much by putting it in a plastic bag then inform us it’s for our own benefit. That sums up the reasoning for plastic wrapping everything. Short term profit and invented consumer benefits. That plastic bag will last longer than the actual Tesco store it was bought from.

The supermarkets wrap everything they can in plastic because they can, and do, charge more for it. A lot more. More than twice as much in some instances. Salad in a plastic bag costs the same as steak, per 100g.

It’s that, times ten million items a day, every day. 

All the talk about recycling is nonsense. Virtually none of the plastic from households is truly recycled. Recycling means being made into something else. That’s when it’s recycled, not when it’s put into a bin of a certain colour. Why are we trying, and failing, to recycle something that doesn’t need to be used in the first place? 

The reason for all the plastic packaging is profit, huge amounts of profit.

Not only is it cheaper for them, they charge twice as much!

VASTLY more profitable, even if it does polite the planet and destroy wildlife at insane levels.

Supermarkets say ‘consumers demand convenience’. Basically putting the blame and responsibility back to us, rather than themselves. We accept convenience when it’s offered, but what we really demand is responsibility, truth, transparency, and a planet that isn’t grotesquely polluted for the sake of corporate greed.

Wrapping every single item in virtually indestructible plastic film does not add life changing convenience for consumers. It creates a more expensive and therefore profitable product for the retailer. That’s what it’s all about.

Tesco will be invited to respond to this article and if they do, I’ll run an interview with them, discussing their policies regarding plastic, profit, people, and planet.

I wonder which they put first. In practice.

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