Will You Take Part In A Mass Unwrap This Week?

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Will You Take Part In A Mass Unwrap This Week?


If you shop at a supermarket, it's impossible to avoid single use plastic packaging. Most of which cannot be recycled. Surfers Against Sewage have a week of consumer action planned - let's get unwrapping!

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Mon 24 Feb 2020

Would you take part in a Mass Unwrap? It's a fun, non combative way to tell the supermarkets you've had enough of single use plastic packaging. 

Orgainsed by Surfers Against Sewage, they're fielding volunteers at supermarkets across the UK all week to help people unwrap and leave their plastic packaging at the supermarket - highlighting just how much there is of it and how difficult it is for consumers to get rid of it?

Sounds like your bag? Whether you're already in or you need a bit more convincing, read on...

The figures are staggering.

Research shows that 59 billion pieces of plastic packaging are distributed by the supermarkets every year, that’s 112 thousand pieces each minute!* 

The total plastic packaging used by the UK’s biggest supermarkets rose from an estimated 886,000 tonnes in 2017 to 903,000 tonnes in 2018 **

In 2019 SAS Mass Unwrap events collected up to nine pieces of unwanted plastic a minute. In one case at Tesco in Braunton, North Devon 1,660 items were handed back; it’s estimated less than 10% of that plastic packaging could be recycled.

MAss unwrap campaign by SAS
People unwrapping food at the supermarket

Image Photography | Sam Breeze

In the UK the burden of plastic waste is more often put onto consumers as businesses contribute just 10% of the end-of-life disposal costs of their product and packaging. 

Surfers Against Sewage wants supermarkets to be part of the solution and calls for them to:

How to get involved in a Mass Uwrap event

The Mass Unwrap campaign lasts until 2 March 2020. 

Anyone can take part no matter where you live. Shoppers will also be able to take part in a Citizen Science survey on what they think are the top pointless plastic items in supermarkets, calling for #LessPlasticPlease and contributing evidence to SAS campaigns.

As an organiser – set up your own Mass Unwrap event with our step by step guide. Click here to find out more  

As a shopper – click here to find your local Mass Unwrap event. Shop as normal during the event, pay and smile at the tills, then look for a volunteer who will help you remove unnecessary plastic packaging and take part in our Citizen Science project.

Woman unwrapping plastic at supermarket

How much plastic packaging do you get through each shop?

Image Photography | Sam Breeze

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer, said: “All the main supermarkets have made pledges to cut single-use plastic and many are on track to hit initial aims, such as banning black plastic, by 2020. But we are all still faced with a sea of throwaway plastic every time we enter a store, from shrink-wrapped coconuts to plastic toy giveaways. 

Mass Unwrap is a chance for customers and their communities to send a strong message to supermarket bosses that more change is needed… and faster.”

* Stats: Environmental Investigation Agency/Greenpeace ‘Checking Out on Plastics’ report 2018. ** Stats: Environmental Investigation Agency/Greenpeace ‘Checking Out on Plastics’ report 2018/9

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