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Tesco’s offer of loyalty card points for customers using their own carrier bags has been lambasted by Friends of the Earth as a ‘drop in the ocean compared to the mountains of packaging waste the chain creates’. Are supermarket chains doing enough to tackle concerns about packaging and the environment, and how might they innovate?

Retailers can take an important lead in reducing the environmental impact of packaging by adopting clear standards – the new Soil Association guidelines would be a good starting point. Manufacturers should also be prioritising this – they don’t at the moment. However, we should really be thinking about how the complete journey between farm or factory and home can be made shorter and more efficient – that’s where radical innovation is needed.

Dorothy Mackenzie, Chairman, Dragon (pictured)

What incentives do the big supermarket chains have to reduce packaging or protect the environment? The whole supermarket offer is based around centralisation and convenience: the big weekly shop, usually by car, with premium prices attached to the more conveniently packaged goods. It is the opposite experience to buying stuff daily in a local high street market wrapped in old newspapers. Until consumer attitudes force a change in the basic business model, packaging waste will continue to grow.

Jeremy Myerson, Director, Innovation RCA

It is actually a shame that Tesco has to reward and encourage its customers to think environmentally. It will save money by buying fewer carrier bags, but let’s look at the bigger picture – cheaper food, biggest employers, biggest employer bonuses, local community activities and so on. It is not always down to the retailer.

Paul King, Retail director, Vivid

Schemes like this have a minimal effect on landfill. But if you visit Tesco’s new stores in Thailand, you’ll find solar power and recycling systems that put the UK’s plastic bag strategy to shame. The disparity shows how hard it is to change established

systems overnight.

Jonathan Ford, Creative partner, Pearlfisher

I am sick of hearing that consumers want pre-packed fruit and vegetables that fill your bin with loads of non-recyclable muck. And where are the in-store recycling bins for secondary packaging? Germany’s had them for years. It’s time to deliver on a really important issue.

Jill Marshall, Managing director, Bloom (pictured)

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