New report reveals how European supermarkets evade their responsibility to address the plastic crisis

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New report “Under wraps? What Europe’s supermarkets aren’t telling us about plastic” is a result of collaboration of over 20 NGOs, members of Break Free from Plastic movement, from across Europe. Among these NGO, Sciaena contacted more than five Portuguese retailers through a questionnaire that aims to assess the performance of supermarkets in three categories: Transparency and performance; commitments; and support for government policy.

Of the 130 European retailers contacted, only 39 (30%) responded in writing to the questionnaire, and a large proportion did not answer all the questions asked. As such, 74 of the European retailers contacted were evaluated, focusing on those with the highest turnover and with a presence in at least two European countries. For a more complete analysis, the government policies of each country under analysis were also taken into account.

The total overall average score achieved by retailers across three categories was only 13.1 points (out of 100) or 13%. Only two companies exceeded 60%, forming the top of the table. These companies are Aldi in the UK with 65.3%, and Aldi in Ireland with 61%. The rest of the highest-scoring companies were significantly behind, with Lidl in the UK with 44.7%, Carrefour in France with 41.7% and the French organic supermarket BioCoop with 37% making up the top five. On the other end of the scale are the 14 companies that did not receive any points at all, including Cora (Belgium); BILLA and PENNY (REWE Group), Coop and Tesco (Czech Republic); Maxima, Prisma and Selver (Estonia); Leclerc (France); Musgrave and Dunnes Stores (Ireland); Intermarché (Portugal); Metro (Ukraine); and Carrefour (Spain).

In Portugal, none of the five retail groups under analysis (Jerónimo Martins, Auchan, Intermarché, Aldi and Lidl) provided meaningful answers to the questions posed in this report, revealing a huge lack of transparency in the disclosure of quantitative data on their plastic footprint, as well as in their positioning towards the support of mandatory mitigation measures, such as the deposit return scheme (DRS). The implementation has been delayed for the past two years, with the decree for DRS having been published in December 2018.

The report ends with recommendations for retailers stating, on a positive note, that the reality we observe today does not have to be the norm. The study indicates that combining the best practices of all the European supermarkets analyzed would be enough to achieve a score of 82.7%, allowing a crucial increase in the performance of these supermarkets.

Full report (in English) here

Read the executive summary here

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