Iceland trials completely plastic bag-free store in UK first

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Iceland plastic
// Iceland has removed plastic bags altogether from one of its stores in UK first
// The trial will run in Iceland’s Hackney store, with customers offered extra-strong paper bags for 15p
// Iceland also trialling the 15p paper bags alongside plastic bags for life (15p) in at least 25 stores

Iceland has launched a trial to completely remove plastic bags from one of its stores, as it ramps up its efforts in the war on plastic.

The trial will run in Iceland’s Hackney store in London, with customers being offered extra-strong paper bags for 15p.

The supermarket and frozen food retailer said these bags can hold up to 16kg of grocery items.

Lighter weight paper carrier bags, at 10p, £1 jute bags, £1 Disney-branded cotton bags, and small paper bags for meat products will also be available.

Iceland said it was also trialling the 15p extra-strong paper bags alongside 15p plastic bags for life in North Wales, Wirral and Cheshire, covering 25 stores.

The retailer said this additional trial would eventually be rolled out across a further 15 stores in the Manchester area next month, and will be used to monitor consumer preference in a setting where the two options are offered side by side.

It is anticipated that the trials will collectively save over 210,000 plastic bags from being newly purchased.

“We know that many customers are using ‘bags for life’ only once and the retail industry needs to work together to challenge this behaviour and find alternative solutions,” Iceland managing director Richard Walker said.

“Over 1.2 billion plastic bags for life were sold last year in the UK and this needs to change drastically.

Both trials will run for six months, with the findings to be analysed throughout and used to inform Iceland’s long-term approach to replacing single use plastic bags.

The retailer removed plastic single-use carrier bags from all stores in 2018 and is in the midst of exploring other non-plastic alternatives.

“These trials will help us to understand how our customers feel about removing one of the most common objects associated with plastic, the supermarket carrier bag, and how they respond to various alternatives.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how customers respond and using the results of the trials in our wider plans to reduce our plastic footprint.”

The news comes days after Iceland reintroduced plastic packaging on its bananas after a failed trial of paper bag replacements.

The return to plastic packaging for bananas equates to 10 million plastic bags a year.

However, a new trial to launch plastic-free banana packaging was due to roll out across 20 Iceland stores this week.

Last year, Iceland claimed to be the first retailer in the world to commit to remove all plastic from its own-label packaging by the end of 2023.

It was also the first in the UK to launch in-store reverse vending machines and trial plastic-free produce, offering a range of fruit and vegetables in either loose format or alternative packaging.

Since making its commitment in January 2018, Iceland said it has reduced or removed plastic packaging across 81 lines and removed over 1500 tonnes of plastic in its packaging.

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