A study by the National Consumer Council (NCC) revealed that many of the UK’s top food retailers have improved their environmental performance in the past year.

However, the researchers said all of the supermarkets still needed to do more – especially in areas such as packaging and energy-saving lightbulbs.

Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer moved up a grade to join Waitrose at the head of the NCC’s annual league table with a B rating.

Asda and Tesco have both moved from a D in last year’s table to a C, while Morrisons and Somerfield improved their scores from an E to a D. The Co-op retained its D rating.

Larry Whitty, chair of the NCC, said: “The food we eat is responsible for one third of our impact on climate change so it’s vital that the big supermarkets make green shopping much easier.

“NCC’s research has spotted important signs of progress right across the market, with all stores now beginning to embrace sustainability.”

But none of the eight top food retailers achieved an A, or excellent, rating.

Sainsbury’s and the Co-op also came under fire for selling energy-efficient lightbulbs at more than 20 times the price of the traditional option.

Lucy Yates, senior policy advocate and author of the study, said: “Government and industry have announced that they will reduce the overall environmental impact of carrier bags by 25% by the end of 2008 and phase out non-efficient lightbulbs by 2011.

“But to really make a difference, we want to see supermarkets go much further than this by making energy-efficient lights much cheaper now and phasing out plastic bags completely.”

The NCC also challenged retailers to use more seasonal food produced in the UK, use more recycled materials in packaging, sell more fish from sustainable sources and increase the range of organic options.

Kate Martin

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