Iceland returns to plastic packaging after failed trial

Iceland plastic
// Iceland returns to plastic packaging after a failed trial
// Managing director Richard Walker said the grocer still has a “mountain to climb”
// A new trial to launch plastic-free banana packaging will roll out in 20 stores from July 24

Iceland has reintroduced plastic packaging on its bananas after a failed trial, as managing director Richard Walker admits the grocer still has a “mountain to climb”.

The frozen food grocer had to return to plastic packaging – equating to 10 million plastic bags a year – after its paper bag replacement resulted in an unsuccessful trial.

Iceland had scrapped a plastic-free trial in Liverpool back in May, three months after a 20 per cent drop in sales.

However, Walker has said the grocer has come out fighting despite the challenges in its promise last year to eliminate plastic from own label products by 2023.

Meanwhile, a new trial to launch plastic-free banana packaging will roll out across 20 Iceland stores from July 24.

“This is all part of the process – we’ve got to keep experimenting,” Walker said.

“We’ve still got a mountain to climb – and we’re still all on our own. No other supermarkets are following our lead.”

Despite recent challenges, Iceland has already taken out 1500 tonnes of plastic across the supply chain, and it’s “costing a lot of money”.

“We can’t do anything that will endanger the success of the business, because there’s 25,000 jobs depending on it,” Walker said.

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  1. I still don’t understand why some bananas have plastic and some don’t… in the same store??? I always buy the ones with no plastic.

  2. It seems not putting them in a bag at all would have been better than putting them in a paper bag. Plenty of other supermarkets manage it perfectly fine – just put a paper band around it if it’s crucial that customers don’t break up the bunches.

  3. Actually, plastic or cellophane packaging does make fruit last longer, leading to less spoilage. This can be due to the concentration of ethylene which causes fruit to ripen and eventually spoil. The issue then becomes the carbon footprint of spoiled food versus the carbon footprint of the plastic packaging. Hopefully, they will reduce the carbon footprint of the fruit packing to 0, but until then, we probably have to choose the lesser of two evils, no matter how counter-intuitive they may seem.

  4. E, I don’t get that, as the unpackaged bananas are always green and the bagged ones yellow. My son has ASD and won’t eat bananas unless they are still slightly green, so it’s always unbagged for me!

  5. a lot of the plastic wrap is done to increase shelf life ( less waste) and make the purchase easier – not need to weight like in continental Europe. Unwrapped packs work well if the merchandising is well thought through and appealing. I wonder if this is what happened in the case of Iceland. It wasn’t nice, and Iceland consumers may not be the most sustainability-driven (vs Waitrose who also tried) and therefore the sales dropped. They tried years ago to move to 100% organic and that failed as well. Has anyone seen a bit more explanation about the Iceland failure


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