Canberrans top anti-plastic sentiment, says survey

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Plastic in supermarkets… ACT shoppers want less.

CANBERRA tops the nation with 73 per cent of ACT shoppers wanting less plastic packaging in supermarkets compared with just 48 per cent of Victorians.

New data reveals that more than half the country is unhappy about wastage across  supermarkets – particularly the overuse of plastic packaging and discarded imperfect produce.

Survey respondents were asked about plastic packaging across supermarkets: 53 per cent said there was too much plastic packaging and they wanted the practice stopped.

However, it seems more young people appreciate the convenience of plastic packaging. The survey revealed that the older the shopper, the more they wanted the overuse of plastic packaging to be stopped.

Sixty-three per cent of over-65s wanted less prolific plastic packaging across supermarkets, compared with 58 per cent of 55-64-year-olds, 52 per cent of 35-54s, 49 per cent of 25-34s and 39 per cent of 18-24s.

The survey of 1008 Australian adults was conducted by SAI Global, a risk-management provider that audits food retailers and manufacturers to ensure they comply with food-industry regulations.

The survey also revealed that 39 per cent of Australians wanted retailers to stop rejecting produce for cosmetic reasons if it led to the produce being thrown away.

In this case, younger shoppers were more irked by this practice than older shoppers. Forty-three (43) per cent of 18-34-year-olds wanted supermarkets to stop this practice, compared with 39 per cent of 35-54s, 37 per cent of 55-64s, and 35 per cent of over-65s.

And again, ACT residents felt the strongest about food wastage than residents in any other state: 60 per cent of ACT residents would like the practice stopped, compared with just 38 per cent of NSW residents.

Andrew Nash, food safety expert at SAI Global, says supermarkets use plastic for food safety purposes.

“Plastic is effective in protecting high-risk foods, such as meat and dairy, from contamination through the millions of pathogens and micro-organisms in the environment,” he says.

“Plastic, particularly if it’s shrink-wrapped, also helps prevent food from oxidising and spoiling quickly, and it is a good protectant from chemicals in the atmosphere. Dozens of people are likely to handle our foods through the entire supply chain process – including other shoppers. Supermarkets need to reduce the risks of cross-contamination.

“Plastic also assists to reduce food wastage by providing an extra layer of protection. For example, English cucumbers have a particularly thin skin and the tight plastic wrapping helps them to last longer in the fridge by acting as an insulator to protect against cold injury and also slows dehydration and spoilage.”

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