Iceland has committed to become the first major retailer to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-brand products by the end of 2023.
The retailer plans to use the latest technologies to create a range of packaging comprising paper and pulp trays along with paper bags which are fully recyclable through domestic waste collection or in-store recycling facilities.
Iceland, which has already removed plastic straws from its own-label range, says new food ranges with paper-based food trays will start hitting shelves in early 2018.
Richard Walker, Iceland managing director, said: “The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change. Other supermarkets, and the retail industry as a whole, should follow suit and offer similar commitments during 2018. This is a time for collaboration.
“There really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment. The technologies and practicalities to create less environmentally harmful alternatives exist, and so Iceland is putting a stake in the ground.
“In tandem, we will also ensure that all our packaging is fully recyclable and that it is actually recycled, through our support for initiatives such as a bottle Deposit Return Scheme.”
Iceland said it has consulted regularly with Greenpeace on the subject. The environmental group’s executive director John Sauven said: “Last month a long list of former heads of Britain’s biggest retail groups wrote a joint statement to explain that the only solution to plastic pollution was for retailers to reject plastic entirely in favour of more sustainable alternatives like recycled paper, steel, glass and aluminium.
“Now Iceland has taken up that challenge with its bold pledge to go plastic free within five years. It’s now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge. The tidal wave of plastic pollution will only start to recede when they turn off the tap. They know the scale of systemic change we need, and yet their responses have been timid and piecemeal. Iceland has offered a more radical solution that shows the way forward for the sector.”