Supermarkets announce plans to remove glitter from product lines and boost recyclability of festive products, as major study emerges highlighting glitter's detrimental impact on ecosystems
Morrison's has announced it will ban glitter from its home-brand product lines this Christmas season, in a bid to prevent mountains of the small particles of plastic contaminating waterways and the natural environment.
The supermarket confirmed yesterday that it was introducing the ban to allow customers to shop more sustainability over the Christmas period, but emphasised the move would extend beyond the festive season and apply to non-seasonal lines as well.
It estimated the move, which will apply to Christmas cards, crackers, wrapping paper, and wreaths, would allow it to remove more than 50 tonnes of plastic from its shelves during the festive period alone.
"We've taken glitter and plastic out of our festive range this year - so that our customers can enjoy their festivities without worrying about the environmental impact," said Christine Bryce, Morrison's home director. "This means that we're now 100 per cent glitter free across all our own brand ranges which is an important step in the fight against plastic pollution."
In addition, all Morrison's crackers will be plastic-free this year, the company added, with cracker shells made from FSC-accredited cardboard and encased games and gifts made out of paper, metal, and wood.
The company said it would also reduce the amount of plastic packaging on cards and decorations and pledged to introduce a wide-range of plastic-free felt, hessian, and wooden Christmas decorations.
Morrison's announcement comes as reports emerged that rival retailers Waitrose and John Lewis have also decided to eliminate glitter from their product lines this Christmas.
Meanwhile, M&S announced yesterday that it was building on last year's commitment to go glitter-free on its Christmas cards and wrap by making its entire festive cards and wrap range recyclable. The company said that it had also eliminated more than 19 tonnes from the whole range by removing plastic packaging on calendars, diaries, and most of its single cards, and switching to card packaging for multi-pack cards and crackers.
And it announced that it had replacing all single-use Christmas cracker fillers with reusable options, such as family fun games, origami kits, bottle openers and mini kitchen utensils.
"We know this year more than ever, our customers want to keep Christmas special with fun and festive products that add a finishing touch to their gifts and celebrations," said Rebecca Chambers, head of packaging at M&S Food. "But we also know they want to be confident that those products are sustainable, so we've worked hard to make our range of cards, gift-wrapping products, crackers and calendars more recyclable, with less plastic - all without compromising on design and quality."
Growing calls for the removal of glitter from supermarket shelves comes as a fresh study from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in Cambridge has underscored the damaging impact glitter litter has on waterways.
The research, touted as the first to examine the impact on freshwater habitats, demonstrated that the presence of glitter in freshwater halved the root length of common duckweed after 36 days.
Study author Dr Dannielle Green emphasised that all types of glitter, includings brands marketed as sustainable, had a negative impact on the natural environment. "All types, including so-called biodegradable glitter, have a negative effect on important primary producers which are the base of the food web, while glitter with a biodegradable cellulose core has an additional impact of encouraging the growth of an invasive species," she said.
"We believe these effects could be caused by leachate from the glitters, possibly from their plastic coating or other materials involved in their production, and our future research will investigate this in greater detail."
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