Sunday, 21 July 2019

Anti-plastic campaigners return packaging to store

Anti-plastic campaigners return packaging to store

ABOUT 30 people returned plastic packaging to a Henley supermarket as part of a campaign to highlight the threat that single-use plastics pose to the environment.

Campaigner Lynne Lambourne organised the group, which included several children, to turn up at the Waitrose store, off King’s Road, at 9.30am on Friday.

They went up to the information desk at the front of the store where they handed over various items of plastic, including bottles of cleaning fluid and packaging for fruit and vegetables.

Notes had been written on the ietms with suggestions and points of action.

A message on one bottle said: “We need refill options in all stores please #ourplasticfeedback.”

Ms Lambourne, from Rotherfield Peppard, organised the event after being inspired by TV chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.   

The #ourplasticfeedback campaign was launched on the BBC’s War On Plastic programme in which Fearnley-Whittingstall and fellow presenter Anita Rani urged viewers to take on major supermarkets and urge them to reduce their plastic packaging.  

Ms Lambourne said: “This was part of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s campaign. He wanted everybody to give a piece of plastic back to a supermarket with a message on it.

“I gathered the troops on my social media channels, asking them to meet me down there. About 30 people turned up and not all were people I knew.

“The messages said things like ‘we want shampoo blocks’ and ‘please stop wrapping our bananas in plastic’ and that they wanted a refill station.

“It was clear that Waitrose had been tipped off about it because their area manager and store manager were there but they were very positive and very nice.”

Ms Lambourne decided to organise the event following a visit to a Waitrose store in Oxford, where the company has trialled going plastic-free.

She said: “The whole idea stemmed from a visit I made to their store in Botley Road.

“I thought that if we could show that in Henley we are interested in what they are doing there then perhaps we could be next on the list.

“The managers at the Henley store said that they do their best to reduce plastic as much as possible but they wouldn’t confirm whether the store would change.

“But they were impressed and they did promise that they were doing all they can.”

Ms Lambourne said that Fearnley-Whittingstall’s team had been in touch about using film footage they had taken at the event for his next series.

She added: “There are so many caring people in Henley, people who I have never met before, so we have been making friends. There is quite a group of us now.

“I am so proud to live in Henley where there are so many educated and caring people.”

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “Although we know we still have a lot to do, continuing to reduce our impact on the environment is a priority for our business and we are listening to customer feedback on the important issue of plastics.

“We have made good progress in reducing our use of unnecessary plastics and packaging and our trial at our shop in Botley Road is designed to help us identify ways for us to build on that.

“It will also help us to understand what plastic and packaging customers consider unnecessary and how our customers might be prepared to shop in the future.

“We expect the concepts to evolve as we receive feedback. While there are no timescales as yet, our track record shows that we take reducing plastic very seriously and if our customers love these new ways of shopping, it's in our interest to get them into more of our shops.” 

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