Supermarket researchers get wrapped up in plastic

Local | Daphne Li 9 Aug 2019

Supermarkets wrap a huge quantity of products in plastic, Greenpeace says.

A worrying finding came after more than 100 eco-minded citizens joined the group in mid-June to look into the use of disposable plastic packaging.

They visited 56 Hong Kong supermarkets from 12 chains and collected data on 12,141 items, making it the largest investigation of its kind.

Eighty-four percent of fruit, vegetables, cooked food and pastries were wrapped in plastic, and half of that packaging was done by the supermarkets rather than suppliers.

Greenpeace also pointed to the two major supermarkets chains, Wellcome and ParknShop, which operate 278 and 164 branches respectively, wrapping over 80 percent of food in plastic.

But another chain, Yata, which operates eight supermarkets, had a staggering 99 percent of its food packaged in plastic cases or sheets.

It was followed by Aeon and Taste at 89 and 88 percent respectively.

The results also showed all chopped fruits are pre-packaged with plastic and over 90 percent of vegetables and cooked food and 74 percent of pastries are wrapped.

The group recommended that stores set up package-free zones, launch discounts to encourage shoppers to go plastic-free, examine the volume of plastic used and establish a timetable for waste reduction.

"Citizens in general think supermarkets have to bear the responsibility to go plastic free, but they have low transparency in the volume of plastic used," Greenpeace campaigner Chan Hall Sion said.

"There is too much unnecessary packaging, and there are no effective plastic-free policies within companies."

Fusion and Taste, which belong to ParknShop, have a 15-percent difference in their plastic packaging rate, she said.

A spokesman for Wellcome said the company is working to improve the balance but insisted there is a need to package certain food products to "preserve their quality, hygiene and freshness."

Greenpeace said not all types of food need to be packaged and urged supermarkets to reduce plastic use.


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