Plastics Pledge Progress
Read more on the progress we are making to eliminate plastic from all of our own label products.
Download our Plastic Annual Report here.
Plastics Removal Update
As we approach the anniversary of our industry-leading plastics removal announcement on 16 January 2019, we are pleased to report progress on a number of fronts.
These include the replacement of plastic egg boxes with pulp trays, the introduction of paper bands to replace plastic bags on bananas, the removal from sale of single-use carrier bags, and switching production of frozen meals out of black plastic trays.
We have also encountered a number of challenges that re-emphasise the ground-breaking nature of our pledge and the many difficulties we will continue to face in seeking to replace a material that has become the food industry’s default packaging solution precisely because it is effective, versatile and cheap.
Black Plastic Meal Trays
We have now agreed new materials and processes with all of our suppliers, and are making good progress in moving production from CPET to board-based trays across all Iceland own label frozen meal ranges. Given the long shelf-life of frozen food, customers will see the new trays filter into stores to take the place of black plastic trays throughout 2019. This is a first in industry move.
Outside the Iceland own label range, we have also minimised plastic packaging of the new and exclusive range of vegan food we launched in September 2018, and have moved Slimming World lasagnes out of black plastic into recyclable aluminium trays.
We continue to evaluate further alternative material options for meal trays, including sugar beet, bagasse (from sugar cane) and bamboo.
Work is progressing to eliminate the thin plastic laminate used to seal our first generation of paper-based meal trays, so making them completely plastic-free. The optimum solution is likely to be a fully compostable pack. We are lobbying Government to make food waste collection from the home mandatory throughout the country, and to include compostable packaging within that system. This will drive investment in the facilities needed to compost packaging effectively, and so facilitate its much wider use.
We are also trialling both cellulose films and translucent paper-based alternatives to replace the plastic film currently used to cover meal trays.
In September 2018 we began the national roll-out of a recycled and recyclable paper band for bananas – the first in any UK supermarket – designed to replace 10 million plastic bags each year.
Work is also continuing to move lines including mushrooms, strawberries and grapes out of plastic punnets into paper- and pulp-based moulded trays. These new formats will actually offer slightly extended shelf-life and so reduce food waste.
We already use paper bags for some of our potato range and are testing the feasibility of using these more widely, subject to supplier packing capabilities in the short term, and are exploring non-plastic alternatives for onions and other products, including citrus fruits, typically packed in plastic netting.
We remain on track to replace plastic packaging with pulp trays across our own label egg range in 2019.
Non-plastic flow-wrap has been trialled on a number of products and we are working to overcome the remaining technical challenges to its roll-out. We will launch this where we can within the next year or so.
Fruitful discussions have been held with paper tub manufacturers and we are keeping track of developments and testing alternative surface treatments that have the potential to eliminate the need for plastic lamination. Over time these will provide potentially viable non-plastic solutions for lines such as cream, yogurt and ice cream.
We are also exploring potential alternatives for milk containers, and are considering a number of different solutions that could significantly reduce their plastic content. This has to be a longer term goal within our five year plastic removal plan, because of the massive amount of investment that the dairy industry has made to integrate plastic into the milk bottling process.
Carrier Bags and Store Consumables
From 8 October 2018 we stopped the sale of 5p single-use carrier bags at our tills, removing 120 million of these bags a year from circulation. We are encouraging customers to bring their own bags, or are offering them 10p bags for life made from post-consumer waste.
We are also finding ways to remove plastics from our retail operations and will eliminate plastic tubes from our till rolls by the end of 2018, saving 600,000 tubes per annum.