CAMPAIGNERS seeking to stop Britain’s big supermarket chains from using plastic packaging for their retail products staged a lunchtime protest outside Sainsbury’s store at Bradford on Avon on Saturday.

The ‘Return the Plastic’ campaign was backed by the East Mendip Green Party and follows similar protests in Frome and elsewhere.

Campaigners had urged people to collect all the plastic items that Wiltshire Council will not collect and return them to the Sainsbury’s store on the Elm Cross Shopping Centre off Rowden Lane.

Organiser Caroline Metz said: “ I have shopped at Sainsbury’s for years but have felt very strongly that supermarkets use an excess of packaging that is non-recyclable and that they need to take responsibility.

“Manufacturers, supermarkets and coffee-chains make massive profits whilst producing and distributing huge quantities of single-use plastic packaging.

“Much of this is not accepted or collected by local recycling and so becomes part of landfill or free-ranging plastic pollution of the environment.

“These organisations should deal with their own rubbish. They must take it back, and recycle it responsibly.

“We are trying to persuade the big supermarkets to stop using plastic packaging on their products.

“These items cannot be locally recycled and we do not think they should become landfill or litter.

“The supermarket must arrange that the returned plastic is taken to suitable mixed-plastic recycling.

“We think that Sainsbury’s should take a lead from the Iceland chain and pledge to go plastic-free in five years or less.

“In the meantime, we want them to urgently improve their use of plastics so that a much higher proportion is easily recyclable.

“We also want them to immediately stop selling plastic straws, plastic earbuds and products containing microbeads.”

The group also wants big supermarkets to initiate a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles and fund local mixed-plastic recycling nationwide. This movement gained momentum after the Blue Planet II series highlighted the threat of ocean pollution and showed footage of wildlife eating plastic.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said that plastic was ‘wreaking havoc’ on the marine environment and in rivers, lakes and the sea.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “We’re working hard to ensure our packaging is as recyclable as it can be and are one of few retailers to invest in recycling facilities at many of our supermarkets.”