Customers have slammed supermarkets for switching to plastic egg boxes following a ‘national pulp shortage’, with some claiming the move is an ‘environmental failure’.
Eco-conscious customers took to Twitter to share their disappointment over the switch to plastic by Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, with one claiming it seemed like a ‘backwards move’, amid steps taken by supermarkets in recent months to reduce single-use consumption.
Supermarkets have since confirmed that there is a widespread shortage of the pulp needed to make the boxes, in tandem with increased demand for eggs due to the increased popularity of baking.
Chief Executive Officer for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Sarah Kessell tweeted her theory for the switch, saying: ‘It’s all been used for bedpans, urinals and kidney bowls for hospitals. I’ve been told reversion back to cardboard boxes will happen as soon as materials available again.’
Bristol Food Union pictured hundreds of eggs stocked in Tesco in plastic cartons and tweeted: ‘Moving all of your eggs into plastic seems like a backward move Tesco’
Jonathan Lewis pictured a six-pack of free range eggs from Morrison’s packaged in plastic
Tesco has explained that it is ‘temporarily using recyclable plastic’ because of an increase in demand and ‘shortage of pulp in the UK’.
And in response to a customer, Sainsbury’s tweeted how ‘the combined factors of Avian Influenza and Covid-19’ have put a strain on their ‘pulp packaging supplier’.
Professor Edward Kosior, based in London, founder and managing director of sustainability consultants NEXTEK, revealed how Covid-19 has impacted pulp suppliers.
He said: ‘The pulp suppliers along with every other manufacturer have been impacted in production, and many plants have stopped or reduced outputs while new strategies and shift patterns were implemented resulting in major reductions in output.
Chief Executive Officer for the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales Sarah Kessell tweeted her theory for the spike in plastic cartons
Alongside a picture of 15-pack eggs in Sainsbury’s, Richard Benwell tweeted: ‘Sainsbury’s, you set a good example moving to 100 per cent free range eggs, so why are you now wrapping them in plastic?’
Anthea Harris-Fry asked why the boxes had been switched with the plastic showing no mention of a 1p donation to Woodland Trust (left). Georgia commented on the plastic pollution of the new packaging (right)
Ben Lee described the move as an ‘environmental failure’ as he pictured his 12-pack of Sainsbury’s free range eggs
‘The mobility of workers has only improved recently and output levels are starting to come back to previous levels. However, the sales of single-use items to meet Covid-19 requirements are still very high prolonging the shortages.’
Speaking to FEMAIL, a spokeswoman for Tesco said: ‘Due to increased demand, there is a shortage of pulp in the UK which is used to make egg boxes.
‘We are temporarily using recyclable plastic to pack some of our six pack eggs.’
A spokeswoman for Sainsbury’s told FEMAIL: ‘We are sourcing millions more eggs for our customers every week as people spend more time cooking and baking at home.
‘We are using our standard recyclable packaging as much as we possibly can, but some eggs may be packaged in recyclable plastic temporarily while we work to source more materials and continue our efforts for feeding the nation.’
Tesco responded to a post that there is a ‘national shortage of pulp’ and have ‘temporarily moved to a fully recyclable plastic’
FEMAIL has contacted Morrisons for comment.
However, disgruntled customers have been left angered, such as one who tweeted: ‘Sainsbury’s, you set a good example moving to 100 per cent free range eggs, so why are you now wrapping them in plastic?
‘Your eggs in cardboard are now twice the price per egg than your eggs in plastic. That seems totally topsy-turvy. Is there a good reason please?’
Another posted a picture of a six-pack of medium free range eggs from Tesco, saying: ‘Tesco you should be ashamed of your packaging. I shop at my local greengrocers for fruit and veg and local butcher because their packaging has less plastic, now this.’
A third added: ‘Hey Sainsbury’s why have you swapped your eggs from cardboard to plastic packaging? This is an environmental failure.’
Bristol Food Union pictured hundreds of eggs stocked in Tesco in plastic cartons and tweeted: ‘Moving all of your eggs into plastic seems like a backward move Tesco.’
Chris McCrave tweeted Sainsbury’s to ask why there was a move from cardboard to plastic
WHAT IS PULP?
Pulp is a wood-based and biodegradable raw material that has a wide variety of uses.
It is used in the production of paper, tissue, board and carton board packaging.
Coniferous trees are the preferred source of pulp because their cellulose fibres are longer and therefore make the product stronger.
Pulp is mixed with water and other additives to create a range of paper-based products including napkins, paper cups, hygiene products and magazines.
Molded pulp is a sustainable packaging source since it is produced from recycled materials and can be recycled again.
Source: UPM Pulp