Sainsbury's has been targeted by Greenpeace after the pressure group found the supermarket to have garnered the most online complaints about its use of plastics in 2018, coming ahead of bigger competitors.
Tackling what it perceives to be a lack of action from the retailer, Greenpeace put its own spin on Sainbury's 'Live Well For Less' tagline, visiting the brand's central London HQ and fixing a ‘Couldn’t Care Less’ banner beneath the flagship Sainsbury’s logo.
Greenpeace says Sainsbury's received more than 4,700 Twitter complaints about plastics in 2018 – slightly more than the UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco, which has nearly double the market share. The figures follow on from a separate study from the activist organisation which found Sainsbury's to have made the least progress on introducing plastic reduction measures since January last year.
As well as changing the sign, Greenpeace activists delivered Twitter complaints on a USB flash drive to the businesses' head office, along with thousands more customer messages.
Campaigners took trolleys filled with plastic packaging and handwritten messages which had been collected from Sainsbury’s shoppers from across the UK and delivered them to the central London headquarters. Audio recordings of the customer messages were also broadcast on a tannoy in the Sainsbury’s main reception area.
Elena Polisano, ocean plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Each and every day Sainsbury’s own customers are urging them to ditch throwaway plastic.
“Yet right now Sainsbury’s are failing them. In fact, our research shows they are worst in class on plastic among all of the UK supermarkets."
She added: “It looks suspiciously like Sainsbury’s couldn’t care less about plastic pollution. If they want to keep their customers coming back they should step up and pledge to eliminate all unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by the end of next year.”
Greenpeace hopes the stunt will push Sainsbury’s to set yearly plastic reduction targets, and start by eliminating unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by 2020.
Greenpeace analysed all tweets published in 2018 which made reference to plastic and which mentioned one of the top four supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. In total there were more than 12,800 tweets that were complaints about plastic or demands to improve policies on plastic, of which 37% were directed at Sainsbury’s.
Sainsbury’s has responded to previous Greenpeace complaints by announcing plans to make reductions to its clothing ranges and by re-announcing some measures it had initially pledged in 2016.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said, “We can reassure customers we’re serious about reducing plastic and have committed to removing over 2,400 tonnes from our supply chain this year alone.”
Greenpeace did not include clothing in its analysis, as not all supermarkets have their own range.
Getting big brands to rethink their plastic policies has been a big focus for the environmental group in recent months. Earlier this year, the brand launched an attack on what it claimed were Nestlé's "unethical" production methods and negative environmental impact.
The Sainsbury's stunt follows on the group parodying the brand earlier this year, using a 'PR announcement' from comms specialist 'Polly Ethene' to defend the supermarket's stance on single-use plastic.