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Supermarkets must still make changes

Litter bugs
Litter bugs

The Co-op has announced that it will replace plastic bags in 1,400 shops with compostable alternatives.

As a keen composter, it sounded good. However, it is not as simple as it seems.

Compostable bags will be available in stores where local authorities have food waste recycling. Householders in these areas have to use compostable bags for food waste so could save money by using the Co-op bag.

But Northumberland County Council doesn’t have a food waste scheme. The compostable bags cannot be recycled and don’t break down easily in landfill. So for people in many areas, they aren’t an option.

While most supermarkets are working hard to address the plastic crisis, they still seem to be avoiding easier and obvious ways to cut plastic. I asked one why its turnips are wrapped in plastic. I was told that perishable goods last longer in plastic. A turnip lasts months without being wrapped up. I am sceptical about the perishable goods argument.

UK households binned £13billion worth of food in 2015. Wrapping everything in plastic doesn’t appear to be making a difference. Perhaps if more food was sold loose, we would buy less and waste less. Supermarkets don’t want us to buy less. It’s in their interests to sell more.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) found that 1.9 million tonnes of food is wasted by the food industry itself each year in the UK. Supermarkets have to make changes right down the supply chain. They need to address the waste they create and the waste we create by selling us more than we need.

I recently met the North Yorkshire Rotters, volunteers who raise awareness of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign and promote home composting and recycling. They have excellent resources. There are great tips to save money and reduce waste at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com

A big thank you to the 55 people who turned out at Amble on September 15 for the Marine Conservation Society Great British Beach Clean. And thanks to Mocha Mondo coffee pod for the free hot drinks. We will have another beach clean in the autumn.

Get in touch on Facebook or email litterbugsnorthumberland@gmail.com