Iceland launching in-store greengrocers in bid to eliminate plastic packaging

The loose produce will also be sold at a lower price

Sarah Young
Tuesday 26 February 2019 11:28
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Supermarket chain Iceland has announced plans to bring back the traditional greengrocer with packaging-free fruit and vegetables as part of its efforts to eliminate plastic entirely by 2023.

The trial, which will launch in one of Iceland’s larger stores – The Food Warehouse in North Liverpool – will see 35 items sold loose and 27 lines sold in plastic-free packaging such as compostable punnets, paper bags and cellulose nets.

The supermarket has also revealed that loose produce will be sold at a lower price than those that come in packaging in a bid to encourage take-up.

Examples of the types of foods customers can expect to find include moulded pulp fruit punnets with a plant-based film and recyclable paper label.

Celery and spring onions will be sold in rubber bands, while satsumas and onions will be sold in plastic-free nets as part of the trial.

“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,” said Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland.

“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.”

The announcement comes after a number of supermarkets have made efforts to ditch plastic over the past year.

Marks & Spencer launched a similar trial on 90 fruit and veg lines in January, and Morrisons replaced plastic bags with paper bags for its loose fruit and veg in June – a move it said would prevent 150m small plastic bags from being used every year.

Last year, Iceland became the first supermarket chain in the UK to sell plastic-free chewing gum.

The natural gum - Simply Gum - is completely biodegradable and made from a tree sap called chicle which is extracted from the sapodilla tree, native to Central America.

The decision to stock the product came after it was revealed that local councils are believed to spend around £60m a year removing gum from pavements up and down the country.

Sir Malcolm Walker, Iceland founder and executive chairman, said: “I absolutely detest the mess that discarded plastic chewing gum creates on our streets and the fortune that is wasted by councils trying to clear it up.

“Simply Gum uses the original, natural gum base of chicle and is fully biodegradable.

“We are delighted to make it available to UK consumers in our stores so that they can have a real choice about what they are consuming and the impact they make on the environment."

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The supermarket also made headlines in 2018 after its Christmas advert about the devastating effects of palm oil plantations was banned.

The TV commercial, an animated tale of an orangutan that has lost its home and family to deforestation, was released in collaboration with environmental organisation Greenpeace.

It was initially reported that the advert had been banned from TV for being “too political”.

However, advertising industry advisory body Clearcast later clarified this had been a “misunderstanding”, saying it could not be shown on TV due to the supermarket’s collaboration with Greenpeace, as opposed to the supposed political nature of the advert itself.

Despite the ban, the short film was named the UK’s favourite Christmas advert of 2018.

According to a YouGov survey, four in five people said they liked Iceland’s advert, 83 per cent said they thought it stood out among others and 87 per cent found the message easy to comprehend.

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