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Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Albert Heijn runs plastic-free produce trial

Dutch retailer tests removal of plastic packaging from fruit and veg in the same week Tesco announces own pilot

Albert Heijn runs plastic-free produce trial

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Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn,  is testing fruit and vegetables without plastic wrapping at a store in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands, it has announced.

The news came just a day after UK retailer Tesco revealed it was assessing the viability of two stores where the plastic packaging on 45 fruit and veg lines will be removed entirely.

Albert Heijn, which last September said it was aiming to reduce the amount of packaging material it uses by a quarter by 2025, will run the trial until 28 April.

Its trial involves over 100 uncooked organic and non-organic products such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, celery, oranges, pears, apples and mangoes.

According to the company, the aim of the trial – with projected savings of at least 270 tonnes of plastic per year – is to see how it affects the quality and shelf-life of products and how customers react to a fruit and vegetable department where most products do not have plastic packaging.

Excluded from the test are potatoes, onions, herbs, convenience items, chilled vegetables and chilled fruit.

Albert Heijn said it had been working for years on reducing plastic by removing or reducing packaging or using other, more recyclable materials.

It cited examples such as replacing convex lids of soft fruit containers with a thin layer, halving the weight of the plastic packaging of fabric softener, removing foil from tea boxes and using thinner caps for water bottles.

"Especially with fruits and vegetables, many customers wonder whether plastic packaging is really necessary,” said Albert Heijn brand president Marit van Egmond.

“We currently use 'dry misting' in more than 150 stores – a refined misting of water that keeps vegetables fresh for longer. We are now going to test whether the combination of 'dry misting' and no plastic packaging will improve the quality and shelf-life in such a way that we can start saving on plastic packaging.”

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