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Michael Barker

BY MICHAEL BARKER

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Iceland launches plastic-free trial

Initiative looks at a range of plastic-free solutions and encourages consumers to switch to loose produce

Iceland launches plastic-free trial

Iceland boss Richard Walker is an advocate of recycling

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Iceland has launched a loose fresh produce trial as the latest step in its commitment to remove plastic packaging from all own-label products by the end of 2023.

The trial will launch in one of the retailer’s larger concept stores, The Food Warehouse in north Liverpool, and offer customers the choice of buying loose produce instead of plastic-packaged products. The prices of the loose produce will be lower than those of packaged equivalents in order to encourage takeup, Iceland confirmed.

The trial will involve a range of plastic-free solutions, including paper bags with a tracing paper window, cotton and cellulose nets, and compostable punnets. Examples include moulded pulp fruit punnets with a plant-based film and recyclable paper label; reusable plant-based rubber bands, used for products such as celery and spring onions; and cellulose and cotton nets, used for products such as satsumas and onions.

Iceland has already removed plastic from certain fresh produce lines across its portolio of over 900 stores, including the introduction of a recyclable band for bananas in October 2018, which is replacing 10 million plastic bags per year. At the end of the year, lemons were switched from plastic packaging to cotton net bags with a paper label.

The trial is being supported by the introduction of new in-store operations including weighing and ticketing facilities, staff training and bespoke point-of-sale materials designed to inform customers about the initiative. 

A customer survey has also been launched to gather feedback on the trial itself, the barriers to purchasing loose produce, and levels of awareness on plastic recycling. Insights from the trial will be shared with Defra to support the government’s ongoing research and consultation around waste. Iceland said it will also be seeking customers’ opinions on compostable packaging. 

Richard Walker, Iceland’s managing director, said: “Over 12 million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year and the retail industry can no longer ignore the plastics tidal wave which is coming our way.  

“We all have a part to play in tackling the issue and Iceland is constantly looking for ways to reduce its own plastic footprint, as we work towards our commitment. We are looking forward to seeing how our customers respond to the trial and taking forward learnings to inform the rest of our journey.”

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