Portuguese Retailers Adopt Measures to Reduce Plastic Use

June 1, 2020
Portuguese Retailers Adopt Measures to Reduce Plastic Use

Quick summary:

  • Auchan Retail to replace all single-use plastic stock – including straws, disposable cutlery, and plastic plates – with biodegradable alternatives

  • Continente, meanwhile, declare annual plastic savings amounting to 4,200 tonnes

  • Measures come with Portugal’s ban on single-use plastics by 2020, outpacing EU laws against disposable plastics

Large retailers across Portugal have recently revealed measures to reduce the sale and use of single-use plastics – in line with the country’s aim to curb the use of a range of plastic products by 2020.

Continente, for example, part of the Portuguese multinational, Sonae MC, has announced annual plastic savings of 4,200 tonnes, almost double the company’s annual figure from 2019.

Involving suppliers in their Strategy for the Responsible Use of Plastics, Continente are adopting new measures to package their produce – including removing bananas from plastic wrapping and introducing a recyclable bakery bag. 

Together, these two measures are expected to save over 100 tonnes of plastic per year.

Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

The Portuguese retailer is also aiming to eliminate, where possible, the use of “virgin” plastic materials by 2025 and to replace them with recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging. The EU’s own goal is to achieve this by 2030.

Auchan Retail, meanwhile, have announced plans to stop sale of disposable plastic items including straws, cutlery, bowls, glasses, and plates. All are to be replaced by biodegradable and reusable alternatives.

The new line of biodegradable products will be made with sustainable cardboard and biodegradable plastic. 90% of the production will be in Europe, with the aim of minimising its carbon footprint.

Leading the Way

These actions from retailers come as a response to the measures passed by the Portuguese government, in April of last year, outlawing disposable plastic packaging of fruit, vegetables, and bread. According to reports, the ban will be effective from June 2020.

Portugal has been recognised as being ahead of the pack, among European countries, in terms of its action on disposable plastics.

Even before the EU committed to a 2021 ban on single-use plastics, Portugal had introduced legislation prohibiting state departments from using plastic bags, plates, or bottles. The same 2018 bill sought to reduce state paper consumption by a quarter too.

Photo by Mehrad Vosoughi on Unsplash