A minus point for PLUS supermarket

Amsterdam, 15 August 2019 – The PLUS supermarket chain sells lightweight plastic cutlery and plastic plates saying that these are sustainable because they can be used one hundred times. The Plastic Soup Foundation had previously qualified this as absurd. In a Distrifood press release, PLUS is sticking to its position. ‘These utensils can be used many times, even 100 times, and are considerably stronger than the previous versions. They can be washed in the dishwasher and be used in the microwave.’ Citing these reasons, PLUS is skirting around European legislation.

Dishwashable utensils

In November 2018, PLUS had announced its intentions in a press release: ‘By including dishwashable crockery and cutlery in its range, PLUS, the Meest Verantwoorde Supermarkt (most responsible supermarket) leads the way in European policy that will soon ban disposable plastics. The European ban will help tackle the plastic soup in the seas and oceans. PLUS is replacing the plastic disposable items with items that are less detrimental to the environment … Adding dishwashable utensils in the PLUS range is a new step towards less disposable plastic.’ And ‘PLUS will make next year’s BBQ season more sustainable by offering dishwashable and reusable crockery and cutlery. These products do not need to be thrown away anymore … They can be reused for more than one hundred times.’


You can see from a mile away that this plastic crockery and cutlery will mostly be sold for single use. The crockery and cutlery have hardly changed in appearance, design, and price. The claim that they are ‘dishwashable’ changes little or nothing in terms of customers deciding whether or not to buy them, let alone encouraging them not to throw them away after one use.

Washing is not reusing

The European Guidelines on reducing the impact of certain plastic products on the environment bans disposable cutlery in 2021. This is not up for negotiation. PLUS is skirting around the ban by calling disposable cutlery dishwashable and therefore reusable. However, for the European Commission, the number of times that a product can be used or washed is not the standard. It maintains a completely different definition of reuse. Its intention in terms of reuse refers to return systems in which the product goes back to the manufacturer or retailer after use, for example by imposing a deposit return system.

A minus point for PLUS that should, of course, know this.


Plus Supermarket works around the European Ban on single-use plastics

Amsterdam, May 23, 2019 — Europe forbids its member-states from selling single-use plastic cutlery (forks, knives, spoons, chopsticks). This is one of the measures that ware mentioned in the new guidelines for single-use plastics. The Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Reduction of the Impact of Certain Plastic Products on the Environment, as the guidelines are officially called, was definitively approved this month now that the European Council has also approved of it. Selling disposable cutlery is therefore prohibited as of 2021. Despite this impending ban, the Dutch supermarket PLUS has already found a way to circumvent the prohibition by marketing plastic cutlery as an environmentally friendly “washable” product. 

Background of the Directive
In order to prevent the exponentially-increasing amount of plastic in the environment, Europe has adopted new rules. These new rules prohibit the use of certain single-use products if there are alternatives. The prohibited products are those which are often found in the environment, such as disposable cutlery; plastic forks, spoons, and knives are often found in places where people picnic, such as on beaches and in parks. The new regulation seeks to eliminate plastic products that are usually thrown away after being used just once or twice — they may no longer be sold as of 2021.
PLUS Supermarket
PLUS Supermarket’s marketers claim that the company is striving to minimize its impact on the environment and touts its corporate social responsibility program. One might, therefore, expect that PLUS brand plastic cutlery — in anticipation of the forthcoming plastic ban — would be removed from shelves. Instead, the brand is suddenly presenting their plastic cutlery as a “sustainable” product that would benefit the environment. It is an embarrassment.

Food waste and plastic waste go hand in hand

Amsterdam, 10 April 2018 – A non-packaged tomato lasts a week, but if wrapped in plastic, it lasts twice as long. A cucumber lasts even three times as long thanks to its plastic covering. Is this why so much food is packaged in plastic? A report published today points to a major paradox. Unwrapped: How throwaway plastic is failing to solve Europe’s food waste problem (and what we need to do instead) shows that since single-use plastic packaging was introduced in the 1950s, not only has the amount of plastic waste increased, but also the amount of food waste. The two are growing in parallel while you would expect that the longer shelf-life of fresh foods would reduce food waste.

Marine garbage patches and food waste are two of the greatest social problems. The figures are unimaginable. Every European throws away 30 kilos of plastic waste and 70 kilos of food every year. Between 2004 and 2014, European households’ food waste doubled while discarded plastic packaging grew by 50% during this period. The economic value of wasted food in Europe in 2015 alone was estimated at 143 billion euros. Forecasts show that in 2020 in Europe, more than 900 billion packaged products (food and drink) will be sold.

Industry and retailers use food waste as a reason to wrap food in plastic. But in reality, the advantage is limited and there are other factors that explain the shelf life of food. Whether food is thrown away or not is not directly related to its longer shelf life. Food waste because of plastic rarely weighs up against the disadvantages of plastic in the environment. Producers mostly use plastic packaging to advertise their products, to transport food across long distances and to decide how much customers should buy at one go (just think about the number of fruit in a plastic net).

The report, compiled by Friends of the Earth, Zero Waste Europe and Rethink Plastic, pushes for a Europe wide approach that will drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste and food waste. Products do not always need to be packaged and the amount of plastic packaging can be greatly reduced. Unless it cannot be avoided, producers and retailers should always opt for packaging that can be reused.

And consumers? Wherever possible, they should always choose for no packaging.

Also read: Favourable outlook for natural branding and England introduces deposit system with coca colas support