Home News Sainsbury’s gets most Twitter complaints about plastics
Greenpeace activists visit Sainsbury’s central London HQ delivering 4,724 Twitter complaints, as well as 2,309 more handwritten messages collected from customers, to urge the supermarket to tackle its plastic problem. Greenpeace is calling on Sainsbury’s to eliminate unnecessary and un-recyclable plastic by 2020.

Sainsbury’s gets most Twitter complaints about plastics

Sainsbury’s received more than 4,700 twitter complaints about plastics in 2018 – slightly more than the UK’s biggest supermarket Tesco, which has nearly double the market share.


SAINSBURY’S received more plastics complaints on Twitter than any of the top four supermarkets last year, Greenpeace analysis shows today.

This morning Greenpeace activists visited Sainsbury’s central London HQ to deliver 4,724 Twitter complaints, as well as 2,309 more handwritten messages collected from customers, to urge the supermarket to tackle its plastic problem.

It follows a survey of supermarket plastic policies[1] last year in which Sainsbury’s came last, and further findings that Sainsbury’s had made the least progress on introducing plastic-reduction measures[2] since January 2018. Greenpeace is calling for Sainsbury’s to set yearly plastic reduction targets, and start by eliminating unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by 2020.

Elena Polisano, ocean plastics campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Each and every day Sainsbury’s own customers are urging them to ditch throwaway plastic.


“Yet right now Sainsbury’s are failing them. In fact our research shows they are worst in class on plastic amongst all of the UK supermarkets

“It looks suspiciously like Sainsbury’s couldn’t care less about plastic pollution. If they want to keep their customers coming back they should step up and pledge to eliminate all unnecessary and unrecyclable plastic by the end of next year.”

Greenpeace analysed all tweets published in 2018 which made reference to plastic and which mentioned one of the top four supermarkets: Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. In total there were more than 12,800 tweets that were complaints about plastic or demands to improve policies on plastic, of which 37% were directed at Sainsbury’s.

Supermarket Total complaints and feedback on plastics Proportion of complaints Average market share over 2018
Sainsbury’s 4,724 37% 15.8
Tesco 4,716 37% 27.6
Morrisons 2,305 18% 10.5
Asda 1,136 9% 15.3
Total 12,881

Sainsbury’s received slightly more plastics complaints tweets than the UK’s biggest supermarket, Tesco, despite having a much smaller market share.

Both Asda and Sainsbury’s, whose merger was last week blocked by the Competition and Markets Authority, have a similar market share of around 15%. But Sainsbury’s received more than four times as many complaints about plastics over the year.

Today Greenpeace activists delivered these Twitter complaints on a USB flash drive, plus thousands more customer messages to the head office of Sainsbury’s. Campaigners took trolleys filled with plastic packaging and handwritten messages which had been collected from Sainsbury’s shoppers from across the UK and delivered them to the central London headquarters.

Audio recordings of the customer messages were broadcast on a tannoy in the Sainsbury’s main reception area, and activists fixed a ‘Couldn’t Care Less’ banner beneath the big Sainsbury’s logo.

Despite plastic production being set to quadruple by 2050, retailers are still focusing more on recycling than reduction. Most major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s have committed to eliminate non-recyclable plastic packaging by as late as 2025 as part of the UK Plastics Pact, and the voluntary targets do not necessarily entail an overall plastics reduction. Many retailers have additional targets to eliminate problematic plastics such as PVC, expanded polystyrene and black plastic within the next two years – but not Sainsbury’s.

Every year the top 10 UK supermarkets place over 800,0001 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging on the market, so Greenpeace UK is campaigning for concrete action now.

Greenpeace launched its campaign targeting Sainsbury’s on March 29 after it found that Sainsbury’s was worst in class on plastic reduction, with the supermarket having made the least progress on plastics reduction since January last year.

Sainsbury’s responded by announcing plans to make reductions to its clothing ranges and by re-announcing some measures it had initially pledged in 2016. Greenpeace did not include clothing in its analysis, as not all supermarkets sell clothes.