Oceanic Ecoliteracy

Earlier this year Kroger, one of the world’s largest supermarket chains, announced plans to phase out single-use plastic bags across its family of stores by 2025. The news followed the release of Greenpeace’s Carting Away the Oceans report, which ranked supermarkets nationwide on sustainable seafood. The report primarily scored retailers on their sustainable seafood efforts, though in this particular edition also looked at labor and human rights issues and plastic waste reduction, finding that none of the major retailers had comprehensive plans to reduce their single-use plastic footprint.

The report also highlights both positive and negative trends in the ecoliteracy of food consumers, showing that while grocery retailers across the United States have improved significantly on sourcing sustainable seafood, they still fail to take significant action on the growing problem of single-use plastics and none of the retailers profiled have established comprehensive plastic-waste policies in place.

The equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute, and with plastic production set to double in the next 20 years—largely for packaging—the threats to ocean biodiversity and seafood supply chains are increasing

According to Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner David Pinsky “It is time for major retailers to put the same energy into tackling the issues facing our oceans and seafood workers, such as plastic pollution and labor and human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. It’s not truly sustainable seafood if it is produced by forced labor and then wrapped in throwaway plastic packaging.”

Among the major retailers  profiled in Carting Away the Oceans Whole Foods remains the top ranked, following its implementation of a strong shelf-stable tuna policy and sourcing improvements. Target moved up to fourth place, following improvements in policy and advocacy initiatives, though the company broke a 2010 commitment by re-introducing farmed salmon into its stores. Meanwhile, more than eight years after Trader Joe’s committed to improvements on seafood sustainability, it still does not have a robust, public sustainable seafood procurement policy.