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'Mass unwrap' to take place across Cornwall

'Mass unwrap' to take place across Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 22nd February 2020. (Updated at 7:37am 22nd February 2020)

A 'mass unwrap' is taking place across Cornwall and the UK - urging supermarkets to ditch plastic packaging.

St Agnes based charity Surfers Against Sewage is calling on communities to make a stand.

Volunteers across the country have been organising events to help shoppers hand avoidable plastic straight back to the supermarkets. 

This year's action will also gather evidence of customers' top plastic pet-hates, to feed back to government and industry and call for action, now.  

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.

Mass Unwrap - SAS
Photo: Matt Alexander

"As we exit the EU, we have the opportunity to put in place ambitious and world leading environmental legislation. 

"We must insure that we put in place policy that focuses on the reduction of plastic packaging that truly tackles the scourge of plastic pollution."

Amy Slack, SAS Campaigns and Policy Manager

One of the marine conservation charity's goals is to stop plastic pollution on UK beaches by 2030.

As the Environment Bill gets its second reading in parliament, the charity is calling for more emphasis on the reduction of packaging waste, rather than a focus on recycling and single-use product innovation.

Surfers Against Sewage is also calling for supermarkets to be part of the solution and calls for them to:

  1. Cut out avoidable single-use plastic and redesign packaging
  2. Implement refill solutions
  3. Use recycled content & stop using virgin plastic
  4. Take responsibility and invest in proven systems technology such as an 'all-in' deposit return schemes for drinks containers.
mass unwrap - sas
Photo: Sam Breeze

"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."

Rachel Yates, SAS Plastic Free Communities Project Officer

mass unwrap - sas
Photo: Sam Breeze

How can you get involved in the mass unwrap?

After the success of the 2019 National Mass Unwrap launch involving SAS Plastic Free Community Leads, SAS have rolled the event out so anyone can take part, wherever they live. 

To kick-start this new wave of community action, a week long National Mass Unwrap is being held between 22nd February and 1st March 2020. 

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. 

Here's how you can get involved:

  • As an organiser - set up your own Mass Unwrap event with our step by step guide. Read more here.
  • As a shopper - there are several Mass Unwrap events  happening in Cornwall this week, starting this weekend in Penzance: Check the map here. 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.

Mass Unwrap is part of Surfers Against Sewage's award-winning Plastic Free Communities campaign to free where we live from avoidable single-use plastic, which is now active in more than 660 communities across the UK.

You can find more information here.

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