Social Responsibility in UK Supermarkets

The supermarkets serve as the liaison between the manufacturers and consumers. The questions pertaining to corporate social responsibility are applicable to both the manufacturers and dispensers (or the supermarkets). The rest of this essay will ponder the question of how successful supermarkets in the UK have been in providing a sufficient range of products while also taking into consideration the long term consequences on people and the environment.
One of the issues related to corporate social responsibility is ‘green consumption’, meaning a consumption pattern that is ecologically sustainable. This translates into finding the right balance between "agricultural production and consumers, particularly the new food economy and the growth in sales of organic produce" (Gilg, Barr &amp. Ford, 2005). Research conducted to understand the relation between citizen attitudes and responsible consumption reveals an interesting finding. In spite of most people in Britain saying that they are concerned about the environment and its health is of great importance to them, their consumption patterns remain unsustainable. What this reveals is the fact that the public relations industry in the UK has done a thorough job of suppressing the real state of the environment and how present consumption patterns will adversely affect it in the future. And supermarkets, being an integral part of modern consumerist culture are equally liable for this state of awareness in the UK (Gilg, Barr &amp. Ford, 2005).
If the lack of creating awareness among consumers is a failure on part of the supermarkets, being direct contributors to environmental pollution is another criticism against supermarkets. Given that 74 percent of the retail sector in the UK is garnered by large supermarket stores, the amount of environmentally hazardous material such as plastic that they use for packaging and carry-bag needs is huge. But, some section of the sector has risen to the challenge and has erected strict rules related to plastic bags. As Lucy Neville-Rolfe states,
"It is really to be welcomed that Tesco, Marks &amp. Spencer, and some of the others, have taken sustainability seriously, and are trying to do more. But, if we want localism, variety of supply and smaller distribution chains, we want the big four supermarkets to grow less and we want more genuine choice in the high street. For instance, I read in the Guardian today about 300,000 carrier bags being fished out of the Thames on the Isle of Dogs. Why don’t the leading supermarkets across the UK do what the town of Modbury in Devon has done and say, "We are not going to give free carrier bags any more"’" (New Statesman, 8 Oct. 2007)
Moreover, research also suggests that consumers are not entirely happy with the range of products being offered. A common complaint among consumers is the lack of real meaningful variety among the merchandise on offer. This standardization of commodities is a phenomenon that is closely related to the ‘lack of human touch’ that has come to define the supermarket experience. But not all is negative about how supermarkets are perceived by the general public in the UK.