Supermarkets 'need to be greener'NCC calls for more UK seasonal fruit and veg

14 September 2006

 

A woman pushes a shopping trolley around a supermarket.

Britain’s leading supermarkets must do more to help shoppers make greener choices, a consumer organisation said today.

The National Consumer Council (NCC) put eight supermarkets to the test and rated them on their green credentials.

It looked at their approach to seasonal food and organics, sustainable sourcing and cutting waste, and found that while there are improvements in some areas, not one of the supermarkets was doing well on all fronts.

Morrisons and Somerfield both got the lowest overall ratings in the the NCC's report. Waitrose came top.

Sustainability and recycling

The NCC said that although Morrisons was top for UK-sourced seasonal vegetables, it let itself down by failing to promote them. It also got low ratings in other areas.

Somerfield did well for stocking in-season UK vegetables, using price promotions and displays to encourage shoppers, but was weak on recycling.

Waitrose scored the best with its good range of organic foods but was also found to sell the highest number of fruit flown in from abroad.

Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's came joint second followed by Tesco, Asda and the Co-op.

Billions of plastic bags

The findings were based on a Food Commission survey. Researchers visited two branches of each supermarket- one in the north-east and one in the south-east of England.

NCC Chairman Lord Whitty said: ‘We all need to understand that food is the typical household’s number one contributor to climate change. By throwing away 10 billion carrier bags each year and transporting carrots from Egypt and strawberries from New Zealand, we hit the environment hard.

‘But shoppers are increasingly keen to do their bit. Now, we make it clear how supermarkets could make greener choices easier for everybody.’

The NCC says it now wants to see more recycled materials used in packaging and paper products like kitchen towels and toilet rolls.

Carbon emissions

The supermarkets should also source and promote more UK seasonal fruit and vegetables to cut carbon emission from lorries and air freight.

The NCC says that encouraging shoppers to cut their use of plastic carrier bags and making sure people can buy fish from sustainable sources would also make a difference.

Morrisons said in a statement: ‘We have an ongoing programme to address sustainable behaviour and we are making positive progress in the areas covered by this report, as well as in others. 

‘We recognise the challenge ahead and are working hard to meet our environmental objectives and targets. In agreeing with the NCC's view that there is always scope for further action, we intend maintaining our momentum through our programme of continuous improvement.’

Somerfield said: 'Somerfield delivers on its green commitments across many areas but we recognise that there is still work to be done in others.'