Sustainable supermarkets

Sustainable supermarkets

Read an article about how some supermarkets have become more environmentally friendly to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


Reading text

Many of the major supermarket chains have come under fire with accusations of various unethical acts over the past decade. They've wasted tonnes of food, they've underpaid their suppliers and they've contributed to excessive plastic waste in their packaging, which has had its impact on our environment.

But supermarkets and grocers are starting to sit up and take notice. In response to growing consumer backlash against the huge amounts of plastic waste generated by plastic packaging, some of the largest UK supermarkets have signed up to a pact promising to transform packaging and cut plastic wastage. In a pledge to reuse, recycle or compost all plastic wastage by 2025, supermarkets are now beginning to take some responsibility for the part they play in contributing to the damage to our environment, with one major supermarket announcing their plan to eliminate all plastic packaging in their own-brand products by 2023.

In response to criticisms over food waste, some supermarkets are donating some of their food surplus. However, charities estimate that they are only accessing two per cent of supermarkets' total food surplus, so this hardly seems to be solving the problem. Some say that supermarkets are simply not doing enough. Most supermarkets operate under a veil of secrecy when asked for exact figures of food wastage, and without more transparency it is hard to come up with a systematic approach to avoiding waste and to redistributing surplus food.

Some smaller companies are now taking matters into their own hands and offering consumers a greener, more environmentally friendly option. Shops like Berlin's Original Unverpakt and London's Bulk Market are plastic-free shops that have opened in recent years, encouraging customers to use their own containers or compostable bags. Online grocer Farmdrop eliminates the need for large warehouses and the risk of huge food surplus by delivering fresh produce from local farmers to its customers on a daily basis via electric cars, offering farmers the lion's share of the retail price.

There is no doubt that we still have a long way to go in reducing food waste and plastic waste. But perhaps the major supermarkets might take inspiration from these smaller grocers and gradually move towards a more sustainable future for us all.


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Submitted by jmajo on Wed, 31/01/2024 - 14:54


Maybe the big chains of supermarkets could sell the surplus food for reduced price to companies that make organic compost to produce organic fertilizers for small farmers.
In order to reduce the amount of plastic waste in packaging, they should let the people use their own packaging when they are getting products from the stores, in my country the supermarkets charge you for each compostable plastic bag you need, but you can't get in the supermaket with your own bags.
Although there are lot of measures supermarkets and other shops could take, I think that’s the people who buy in those shops that need to change their cultural behavior and demand other measures and stop buying products not environmentally friendly and get their products from local farmers and small shops directly instead of buying in big warehouses.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

Submitted by Santipro on Tue, 16/01/2024 - 23:39


They can stop using a lot of plastic bags for their products and don't give receipt payments anymore, most of the times they are innecesary, is essier to send a message with a digital receipt.

Submitted by Nicolo Guiducci on Fri, 05/05/2023 - 18:55


In Italy, all supermarkets take a lot of care of our environment. They also donate all their excessive food to charity associations.

Submitted by ACGC on Tue, 14/06/2022 - 20:47


I think that there are many ways to help the environment by supermarkets, like avoid plastic bags, this example its applying now in México and USA, maybe its a little step but we need to begin with something. I'm sure that there are many ways to leave a positive environmental fingerprint. But in the otherhand is incredible the amount of food wasted by supermarkets, I think that it needs a law which regulates them. There are many people who really need something to eat and this bussines have in their hands a solution.

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Submitted by Hennadii on Tue, 30/11/2021 - 14:50


There is always something to do and huge business has to play the main role in positive changes in the world. Because, as Peter Parker's (aka Spider-Man) uncle said - The great power is the great responsibility ))
First of all, they should reduce product wasting. Every day in my nearest supermarkets I see on shelves products with ending terms. Some days they sell them at discount and after that just rid of them.
I think supermarkets must better predict the required amount of goods, use statistics or organize feedback from customers.
The other point waste of packages. We use too much plastic and paper to pack goods. Lion's part of these packages is not recycled and becomes garbage on our planet. I think we should seriously reduce the number of plastic and paper packages by forcing customers to reuse the same package. For example, by selling eggs only in customers' egg trays.
The same method could be used for green groceries and candies or so.
Anyway, I'm sure there are lots of ways to make our planet better and we have to use all of them.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 27/10/2021 - 07:28


Supermarkets can do many things. As they should give food who is really needs it. Many charity are doing business in the name charity.this is wrong. Supermarkets set up own team to pursue this things.

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Submitted by venabulum on Thu, 13/05/2021 - 20:19

First of all, they should share surplus food with people who really need it. Secondly, they should set up an automatic heat and light system so their buildings would use only that amount resources that its really have to. Finally, retailers should enhance the educational side of their activity and show customers how to recycle and reuse things.
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Submitted by danisep on Tue, 27/04/2021 - 15:18

I think that there are various ways to help the environment by supermarkets, like change diesel or gasoline Transport vehicles for electric ones or use solar panels and batteries In its premises and paper bags among others, I'm sure that there are many ways to leave a positive environmental fingerprint. but something that got my attention was the amount of food wasted by supermarkets, I think that it needs a law which regulates them. there are many people who really need something to eat.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 06:20

They can reduce the energy they use for lighting and heating the shop. Also, they can eliminate receipts that they give to customers and send SMS instead of it.