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UK's most eco-friendly supermarkets revealed

UK's most eco-friendly supermarkets revealed
Lidl came top for greenhouse gas emissions and third best for plastic use, according to Which?. Photo: Miguel Villagran/AP (AP)

Waitrose and Lidl have been crowned as the UK's more eco-friendly supermarkets, according to a new ranking by consumer group Which?.

The research looked at a range of supermarkets' environmental policies including both plastic and food waste, which shoppers have reported are the biggest issues for them; and greenhouse gas emissions, which most experts say is the greatest danger to the environment.

Lidl came top for greenhouse gas emissions and third best for plastic use, as 87% of its own-brand plastic is recyclable. However, Lidl scored lower on food waste, but the budget supermarket put this down to selling more fresh items than other comparable retailers.

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Waitrose scored highly for both plastic and food waste compared with other supermarkets and earned a "reasonable" score for greenhouse gas emissions.

Iceland was named as the least eco-friendly supermarket, according to the Which? rankings, as the frozen food retailer was unable to report how much of its own-brand plastic is recyclable, so scored zero points. However, even a maximum score in this area would still have left it in last place.

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As a frozen food specialist, Iceland had the lowest score for operational greenhouse gas emissions due to the large amount of energy needed to run its in-store freezers. However, it does buy 100% renewable electricity for its UK stores.

Marks & Spencer (MKS.L) was found to use a lot of plastic compared with other supermarkets. It was also the only one unable to provide its food waste data in a comparable format, so scored zero points for this, and was in the bottom half of Which?’s table for emissions.

The Co-op came top for the overall issue of plastic, as 94% of its own label plastic packaging is recyclable at kerbside. In fact, 100% of its own-brand plastic packaging can be recycled when in-store collection points are taken into account.

Ocado (OCDO.L) was awarded the highest score for food waste. The online supermarket redistributes almost all surplus food, leaving just 0.04% as waste. Aldi, Co-op and Lidl have 24 times as much food waste proportional to their food sales as Ocado.

Which? highlighted the power of consumers to influence supermarkets' sustainability as businesses respond to customer behaviour. Making environmentally friendly choices and demanding sustainable options can influence shops to improve.

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Harry Rose, editor of Which? magazine, said: “We know that consumers increasingly want to shop sustainably and our in-depth analysis of three key areas shows that all the big supermarkets could be looking to make some improvements.

“The good news is shoppers can make a big difference themselves by adopting more sustainable habits, such as buying loose fruit and vegetables, buying seasonal local produce, eating less meat and dairy and limiting their own food waste.”

The UK's most eco-friendly supermarkets, according to Which?:

1. Lidl — 74%

1. Waitrose — 74%

3. Asda — 71%

3. Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) — 71%

5. Tesco (TSCO.L) — 69%

6. Morrisons — 68%

7. Aldi — 66%

8. Co-op — 65%

9. Ocado — 63%

10. Marks & Spencer — 48%

11. Iceland — 29%

Watch: Top tips for helping the environment on a tight budget