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Independent retailers helping to change the way we shop

Climate emergency headlines and programmes such as the BBC’s War on Plastic are driving consumers to take action against unnecessary, disposable single-use plastic.

In Scotland alone, around 224,000 tonnes of plastic waste is collected from Scottish households each year – and if not recycled correctly, can end up in landfill or being incinerated.

This increased awareness of the environmental impact of single-use plastics is turning the spotlight on retailers. While much of the focus has been on plastic, it is our throwaway culture which is increasing the damaging carbon emissions driving the climate emergency. So as well as reducing needless single-use plastic we also have to stop using all unnecessary single-use products made from any other kind of material too. The UK's largest supermarkets have pledged their commitment to move away from using single-use plastics and become signatories of the UK Plastics Pact, which brings together the entire plastics packaging value chain to tackle the significant amount of waste that has become a normalised part of shopping.  Many have announced their sustainability strategies and begun implementing changes, such as Waitrose, which launched its refillable, packaging-free pilot store earlier this month. In addition many have introduced packaging-free trials for some of their fruit and vegetable ranges. 

They join the growing global movement of independent shops, branded ‘packaging-free’ stores, which have already committed to reducing waste by doing away with unnecessary single-use packaging of any kind altogether, which is the best thing we can all do. Globally these innovative 'packaging-free' stores are helping to revolutionise the way we shop - minimising the impact of consumer waste and ultimately helping customers on their journey to a zero waste lifestyle. They are committed to providing customers with eco-friendly alternatives such as refill services which eliminate the need for single-use packaging for products like pasta, vegetables and, in some cases, even bathroom essentials, such as shampoo and soap.

Where packaging is essential, the least wasteful types are those which can be recycled, and ideally turned back into the same product - such as recycling empty bottles to make new ones. One of the best examples of this approach is Scotland’s forthcoming deposit return scheme for drinks containers, which will be the first of its kind in the UK. The scheme will be easy to access and incentivises consumers to recycle.  Find out more on our deposit return pages.

Head to How to Waste Less to check out your nearest store and don’t forget your containers!

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