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Pledge Progress

Our work so far on removing plastic packaging


Tonnes of plastic saved so far


Tonnes of plastic saved so far

Plastics Removal Update, October 2018

Read more on the great progress we are making to eliminate plastic from all of our own label products.

Black plastic meal trays

Black plastic meal trays

We are on track to end the production of own label frozen meals in black plastic trays by the end of 2018, removing 100 million a year of these notoriously non-recyclable items from circulation. This will involve their replacement by a mixture of paper-based trays for microwaveable products, and fully recyclable aluminium trays for those lines that are typically cooked in a conventional oven.

Our initial meal ranges in paper-based trays, including Mumbai Street Co, have now been joined by a new range of Mexicana street food, and we have also minimised plastic packaging of the new and exclusive range of vegan food that was launched in September.

We are currently evaluating 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.

Produce packaging

Last month we began the national roll-out of a recycled and recyclable paper band for bananas – the first in any UK supermarket – that will replace 10 million plastic bags and save 57 tonnes of plastic each year.

In the coming months we will also 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 typically packed in plastic netting.

Produce packaging

Other products

We are on track to replace plastic packaging with pulp trays across our own label egg range by early 2019, removing 600 tonnes of plastic per year.

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 have stopped the sale of 5p single-use carrier bags at our tills, saving 1,600 tonnes of plastic every year. We are encouraging customers to bring their own bags, or will offer them 10p bags for life made from post-consumer waste. We are continuing a trial of alternative paper carrier bags that begin in our Merseyside stores in July and has now been extended into two further regions.

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 the year, saving 600,000 tubes per annum.

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