NEWS: Will you join 'Mass Unwrapped'?

Increasing numbers of groups have pledged to join a mass supermarket protest against the use of plastic packaging - leaving unnecessary packaging at the tills.

Surfers Against Sewage are behind the action, from Feb 22- March 1, which aims to 'show how much plastic is used by supermarkets' and 'put pressure on them from community level to change'.

The campaign group aims to build on the success of its 2018 Earth Day Mass Unwrap and 2019 events.

Research shows that 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging are distributed by the supermarkets every year - or 112,000 pieces a minute.

The total plastic packaging used by the UK’s biggest supermarkets rose from an estimated 886,000 tonnes in 2017 to 903,000 tonnes in 2018.

In 2019 mass unwrap events collected up to nine pieces of unwanted plastic a minute.

In one case at Tesco in Braunton, North Devon 1,660 items were handed back.

It was estimated that less than 10% of the plastic packaging could be recycled.

"But we are all still faced with a sea of avoidable, throwaway plastic every time we enter a store, from shrink wrapped coconuts to plastic toy giveaways."

The campaign group says 'mass unwraps are not designed to cause disruption to supermarket staff, but instead raise awareness and gather unwanted plastic as shoppers leave the store'.

Rachel Yates, Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “All the main supermarkets have made pledges to cut single-use plastic and many are on track to hit initial aims, such as banning black plastic by 2020.

"But we are all still faced with a sea of avoidable, throwaway plastic every time we enter a store, from shrink wrapped coconuts to plastic toy giveaways.

"Mass unwrap is a chance for customers and their communities to send a strong message to supermarket bosses that more change is needed … and faster."

Project Officer Amy Slack added: “Retailers have a massive part to play in stemming the flow of single use plastic and pointless packaging.

"Our supermarkets in particular can be hugely influential both in their own brand products and by putting pressure on their supply chains.

“This year, we have seen some great commitments made and now it’s time for action to be taken.

"It’s critical that commitments result in real reduction in the amount of plastic packing used and more refill solutions being put in place, not just focused on recycling.

"This year, by taking part in a mass unwrap, you can help highlight where action is still needed to reduce packaging in our supermarkets.

"One group which has already pledged to take part is in Seaton in Devon, which is staging events at a Tesco of February 22 and 23 and Co-op on February 28 and 29.

A spokesperson for the group explained: "How do you take part? Just come and do your shopping during the time slot, pay and smile as usual and then head to one of our volunteers to unwrap any avoidable plastic packaging in your trolley or basket.

"You may want to bring an extra bag for loose fruit and veg, or a reusable container for your dry produce, but that’s it!"

A map of planned unwrapped events can be found here

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