Marks & Spencer is facing a backlash from customers for its excessive use of plastic packaging – despite promising to become the greenest retailer in Britain.
Shoppers and environmentalists have condemned the supermarket for delivering small or single items, including its Christmas food, in a 'mountain of plastic'.
Lorna Sturgess posted a photograph on Twitter showing three items packaged in three separate boxes and wrote: 'Why why why?! Sort of defeats the point of me buying recycled wrapping paper when you package it in an absolute mountain of plastic. Nothing in my order was fragile.'
Another customer, Jon Hitch, complained about an order, writing: 'Such a waste, seven bags turning up today for a single online order.'
Lorna Sturgess posted a photograph on Twitter showing three items packaged in three separate boxes and wrote: ‘Why why why?! Sort of defeats the point of me buying recycled wrapping paper when you package it in an absolute mountain of plastic. Nothing in my order was fragile'
Other examples that have drawn criticism include a small slice of cake sold in a plastic jar and plastic packaging for festive party food.
But it was ten posh cheesy beans on toast, costing £5, that caused the most upset. The packaging has been described as 'pointless', with one woman writing on social media: 'You've gone too far.'
Another complained to M&S: 'This is taking the Michael. The packaging is a disgrace, what about the environment? The price point is ridiculous as well. How has this got on to your shelves?'
Environmental campaigners accused M&S of being out of touch. Lisa Gibson, from the Low Waste Weekly website, said: 'I agree with the anger from shoppers. We as individuals can only do so much to avoid consuming this excess'
There has also been irritation at M&S selling underwear with plastic hangers. 'There's so much more you can do. Cardboard hangers, paper bags, cotton label connectors,' suggested shopper Kate Potter on social media.
Another customer complained that two packs of school shirts had come with 18 pieces of plastic plus outer plastic bags with non-recyclable hangers. 'Why so much? The 8 pieces of cardboard also included should have been enough support. It's excessive,' said the mother, who also questioned why a £10 lampshade needed non-recyclable bubble wrap, three more layers of plastic and its own cardboard box.
Shoppers have demanded the company explain how such examples fit with 'Plan A', a sustainability plan launched by M&S in 2007 with a goal to 'only use plastic in our business where it has a clear and demonstrable benefit'.
But environmental campaigners accused M&S of being out of touch. Lisa Gibson, from the Low Waste Weekly website, said: 'I agree with the anger from shoppers. We as individuals can only do so much to avoid consuming this excess. Retailers need to consider how and what they are stocking on their shelves before it causes even further damage to our planet.'
M&S said it had topped the reduced use of plastic category in a Supermarket Plastic League table compiled by Greenpeace, adding: 'M&S is committed to being a fully net zero business by 2040, with all our food packaging being recyclable by the end of next year and 30 per cent of our plastic food packaging removed completely by 2027.'