Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, with the new banana multipack.
British retailer Iceland has swapped plastic bags for paper bands in its multipacks of bananas, as the industry’s crackdown on plastic packaging continues.
Despite the concept’s simplicity, it claims to be the first supermarket in the country to introduce ‘plastic-free packaging’ for its pre-packed bananas, with consumers continuing to call out excessive and wasteful examples of plastic packaging.
The paper band is 100% recyclable, itself made from recycled paper, and will cut down on the 10 million plastic bags currently used to package Iceland’s bananas every year.
But critics will still ask why a bunch of bananas needs to packed in anything at all.
Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, said the development represents the retailer’s “commitment to remove plastic from our own-label packaging”.
“We have been working hard behind the scenes to find plastic-free alternatives,” Walker said. “People have become so used to buying their products wrapped in plastic, or indeed using plastic bags for loose produce, and this has to stop if we are to turn down the tap on plastics. We’re creating impetus for that change in consumer habits through the use of innovative solutions.
“This move alone will have a significant impact on our plastics consumption and is one of the first of many solutions that are in development. Our customers support our move to reduce single-use plastic and we are pleased to share this important milestone, with many more to come.”
Iceland said that, with 420 million bananas sold in the UK every year, the introduction of paper bands could “represent a huge reduction in plastic consumption” if other grocery retailers followed its own example.
The new packaging has launched in three Iceland stores as an initial trial and will roll out to a further 120 stores later this week, before a national rollout by the end of the year.
The band will bear the Plastic Free Trust mark, which is designed to inform consumers of the use of plastics in the products they buy and of which Iceland was an early adopter.
The UK introduced a £0.05 charge on plastic carrier bags in supermarkets in October 2015 – but the charge does not extend to branded goods that use plastic packaging, nor does it apply to plastic tie-seal bags used for unwrapped food such as meat, fish and fresh produce.
Bananas have become the adopted battleground of choice for the plastics debate, as consumers question the need for plastic packaging in fresh categories.
A Korean retailer was lauded online last month for its ingenious solution to reducing food waste in bananas, launching a multipack of bananas at various stages of ripeness to reduce the chance of bananas going off before the consumer has chance to eat them.
But it was pointed out that the concept is undermined by its excessive use of plastic packaging.
Iceland has attempted, in the past few months, to establish itself as a first-mover on plastic: it has announced plans to eliminate plastic packaging from all of its own-brand products by the end of 2023 and became the first British supermarket chain to install a reverse vending machine that accepts used plastic bottles.
That scheme was extended in June to several new stores.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020