Plastic took over the world because it's cost-effective, useful and durable. Every year we produce over 300 million tons of plastic. Half of this is for single-use purposes – used for only a few moments, but on our planet for several hundred years. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic every minute.
Walking through our supermarkets we are confronted with an overwhelming amount of unnecessary plastic packaging. Plastic encasing apples and bananas and diced carrot sticks wrapped in plastic are a few examples of pointless plastic packaging.
High volume of plastic use in supermarkets is unsustainable and dangerous for the health of our fragile environment. The problem seems overwhelming. But fortunately, many popular retailers are taking a stand. And Tiliter is lending a hand with the right supermarket tech to make plastic reduction a reality.
World Wildlife Fund has called for a global treaty on plastic pollution in response to plastic particles being found in a new amphipod discovered in Asia. Researchers discovered the new species of deep-sea amphipod had plastic present in its body, the amphipod has named ‘Eurythenes plasticus’ in reference to the plastic (polyethylene terephthalate).
“The newly discovered species Eurythenes plasticus shows us how far-reaching the consequences of our inadequate handling of plastic waste truly is. There are species living in the deepest, most remote places on earth which have already ingested plastic before they are even known about by humankind. Plastics are in the air that we breathe, in the water that we drink and now also in animals that live far away from human civilization.”
— Director of the Marine Programme at WWF in Germany, Heike Vesper.
Every industry relies on product packaging. Plastic transformed the packaging industry and packaging is now the largest end-use market segment accounting for just over 40% of total plastic usage.
From airtight plastic wraps, to shelf secure bottles and containers, packaging has played a vital role in safely delivering food supply from farm to table. Produce is carefully nestled into perfectly moulded plastic strays. Fruit and vegetables tightly wrapped in impermeable plastic have a life span of weeks rather than days. A cucumber wrapped in plastic can survive two weeks as opposed to three days without plastic wrapping
With customers often driving driving momentum, supermarket chains have recognised their responsibility to reconsider their plastic use and consumption. The trend to reduce plastic waste began with the removal of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, helping to reduce approximately 500 billion plastic bags that are used worldwide annually.
The reduction of plastic bag use and BIY (Bring It Yourself) was a monumental cultural shift towards a plastic-free environment. However, supermarkets have acknowledged this is just the beginning of the transformation of our process to reduce plastic packaging.
A number of supermarkets around the world have made public commitments to reduce plastic wastage or become plastic-free. Lotte Mart, one of the largest supermarket chains in South Korea, announced its scheme to reduce single-use plastic usage by 50% by 2025. This is the first supermarket chain in Asia to make such a promise.
Tiliter Retail customer, global supermarket giant Countdown, joined a New Zealand pledge towards using 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging in their own brands by 2025 or earlier. They also trialled plastic packaging-free fruit and vegetables in Auckland stores last year, announcing that the fruit and vegetable section of three Auckland Countdowns will be "unwrapped". This is an incredible initiative that Tiliter Retail proudly supports.
Also on our celebration list is our Aussie customer Woolworths, who were named Green Supermarket of the Year by Finder in June 2021. A phenomenal achievement that demonstrates their commitment to sustainability.
Our computer vision software recognises products without barcodes or wrapping, which helps grocers like Woolworths and Countdown eliminate packaging. This translates to massive reductions in single-use plastics and unnecessary waste. The software is able to recognise products in under one second and it can even differentiate between the most difficult sub-categories such as Truss, Roma, and Gourmet tomatoes. So you get a convenient way to shop that gets the green tick too.
If you can remove the need for manual identification, you no longer need to display barcodes on produce, and in turn, there's an opportunity to remove single-use plastics from supermarket shelves for good. Find out how you can join the ANZPAC Plastics Pact to say goodbye to plastic waste from supply chains by 2025.
Want to know more about how Tiliter Retail can help your supermarket reduce plastic? Check out our retail tech here.