UK frozen food retailer Iceland will aim to eliminate plastic packaging from all of its own-brand products by the end of 2023 as it aims to cut down on the 1 million tonnes of plastic generated by supermarkets in the UK each year.
The supermarket said it will be harnessing the latest technologies to create a range of packaging comprising of paper and pulp trays along with paper bags which are fully recyclable through domestic waste collection or in-store recycling facilities.
Iceland quoted a survey of 5,000 UK consumers which stated that 80% would endorse a supermarket’s move to go plastic-free and 68% think that other supermarkets should follow this lead.
The supermarket has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own-label range. And its new food ranges, which are set to hit the shelves in early 2018, will feature paper-based rather than plastic food trays.
Iceland managing director Richard Walker is driving this initiative to demonstrate the potential for the entire supermarket retail sector to go plastic-free as far as possible.
“The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics,” he said. “A truckload is entering our oceans every minute, causing untold damage to our marine environment and ultimately humanity – since we all depend on the oceans for our survival.
“The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change. Other supermarkets, and the retail industry as a whole, should follow suit and offer similar commitments during 2018. This is a time for collaboration.
“There really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment. The technologies and practicalities to create less environmentally harmful alternatives exist, and so Iceland is putting a stake in the ground.
“In tandem, we will also ensure that all our packaging is fully recyclable and that it is actually recycled, through our support for initiatives such as a bottle deposit return scheme.”
Throughout the process, Iceland has consulted regularly with Greenpeace experts and has called on competitors to follow its lead.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said: “Last month a long list of former heads of Britain’s biggest retail groups wrote a joint statement to explain that the only solution to plastic pollution was for retailers to reject plastic entirely in favour of more sustainable alternatives like recycled paper, steel, glass and aluminium.
“Now Iceland has taken up that challenge with its bold pledge to go plastic-free within five years. It’s now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge. The tidal wave of plastic pollution will only start to recede when they turn off the tap.
“They know the scale of systemic change we need, and yet their responses have been timid and piecemeal. Iceland has offered a more radical solution that shows the way forward for the sector.”
The news comes as beverage companies Diageo and Pernod Ricard pledge to eliminate plastic straw and stirrer use.
Last year, 150 companies and global organisations – including Nestlé, Danone and Unilever – endorsed a total ban on oxo-degradable plastics.
Iceland said it will provide regular updates on key milestones during the next five years as it transitions to plastic-free packaging.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019