Plastic Activism, Plastic Attacks and Panic Football … the Revolution may just have started

Plastic Activism ... Plastivism ... has started and it may become a game changer. Actions called "Plastic Attacks" have started to spread out in Europe at a very high pace.

What are Plastic Attacks?

A plastic attacks is when customers are ripping off and discarding the plastic (food) packaging in the shop where they bought the foods or goods. It is important to mention that customers buy the goods first, they do not target one specific retail or shop and the protest happens peacefully.

“Supermarkets are obliged to take back the packaging” according to Flemish (Belgian Region) Minister of Environment Joke Schauvliege.

The purpose of Plastic Attacks is to increase awareness around the excessive use of plastic packaging in our society especially in the retail industry. A classic example is the cucumber with its own plastic packaging. What some environmental activists call … a very bad joke. 8 Million tons of plastics are discarded in the oceans every year. The oceans will contain as much plastic as fish by the year 2050 if this rhythms is sustained.

The First Plastic Attacks was in the UK

The first Plastic Attack took place at Tesco (Keynsham, UK) on the 27th of March. 30 Customers ripped of the plastic packaging of their foods in the shop. Tony Mitchell, who organised the protest, said “three huge trollies” were filled with discarded plastic. He’s planning next actions in other UK supermarkets such as Waitrose and Sainsbury.

tesco plastic attacks

Plastic Attacks in Belgium

In Flanders, Plastic attacks took place in Ghent and Brugge (Flanders) followed by the first Plastic Attack in Brussels that happened last weekend in a Delhaize store Avenue Anspach.


All these Plastic Attacks are organised by independent groups, which is a sign that this Plastic Activism should be taken seriously. Future Belgian actions have been planned in Gent, Bornem, Leuven, Brugge, Mechelen en Lokeren on the 2nd of June.

Plastic Attacks are spreading Internationally:

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the “first” Plastic Attacks planned in several other countries. Plastic Attacks will soon gear up in the Netherlands too.

  • Netherlands: first plastic attack planned on April 12nd in Alber Heijn Groeningen
  • Norway: first plastic attack planned in Oslo on the 14th April
  • Italy: first plastic attack is planned on June 2nd in Genova
  • Switzerland: 2nd of June
  • Portugal: 2nd of June in Lisbon

Click on the link to discover next events:

What’s next?

On one hand, these Plastic Attacks may eventually die out, but on the other hand it may start an uncontrollable chain of events. Plastic Attacks may seem insignificant and obsolete but let us remember that the First World War started with one single bullet shot.  Animal rights and environmental activism also started overnight as small and single uncoordinated actions eventually impacting the whole world and business community.

The signal is clear: people want to see change regarding the use of plastic especially in food and goods packaging. The problem is that plastic is irreplaceable at this point in time. Retailers and producers will be the first in the line of fire if Plastic Activism (Plastivism) spreads out. The safest bet for retailers and producers is to switch towards bioplastics….the sooner the better. Bioplastics is a safe bet in the short term because it will help companies in several ways: environmental responsibility and productive agility (being able to adapt to changes in a fast way). Agility and ability to change are competitive advantages. Let us remember what Darwin said about the survival of species, I believe it was related to… one’s ability to adapt. In the year 2018, production and packaging teams are supposed to adapt to customer behaviour in a prompt way.

Replacing classic plastic by bioplastics will require time, planning and resources. Some retailers and producers are smarter than others and have already their bioplastics sourcing action plan in place. Some food producers are even trying to get exclusivity agreements with bioplastics suppliers to gain a competitive advantage from their competitors. 

Some companies who have already safeguarded their bioplastic sourcing will thrive while others who havent will soon be playing…what the Dutch call….panic football.


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