// M&S launches scheme encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers at its food-to-go counters
// Customers receive a 25p discount for bringing their own containers to use at the 23 Market Place counters
// M&S also introduced a “widely recyclable” terracotta CPET tray to replace black plastic
Marks & Spencer has introduced a new scheme that incentivises customers to bring their own re-usable containers at some of its food stores as part of efforts to reduce plastic waste.
The new scheme encourages customers to bring their own reusable containers to M&S’s Market Place food-to-go counters, whereby they receive a 25p discount off each meal for doing so.
M&S said it is the first major retailer to introduce a reusable container incentive for fresh food-to-go, and compliments the 25p incentive for hot drinks served in reusable coffee cups that was introduced in April last year.
M&S hopes to encourage a change in consumer behaviour and reduce the use of disposable items – especially single-use plastic – amid new research from IGD that shows the food-to-go sector is set to grow 26.4 per cent by 2024.
M&S’s Market Place concept is available in 23 of its stores and offers a variety of hot and cold lunch-to-go options, from rotisserie chicken and fish to salads.
The bellwether retailer said more than 70,000 people pick up lunch from Market Place each week.
“Our priority is to reduce single-use packaging and ensure any we do use can be reused or recycled, as we work towards our 2022 target for all our packaging to be widely recyclable,” M&S food technology director Paul Willgoss said.
“Food-to-go is a growing market, so finding solutions in this space is an important part of our wider plan.
“Our Market Place containers are already widely recyclable, but we want to go a step further with the introduction of an incentive to encourage customers to switch to reusable containers.”
M&S’s new scheme shares some similarities with a Waitrose trial launched in June, where customers can bring their own containers to use at a dedicated refill zone in-store.
These zones have dispensers for pasta, rice, coffee and washing up liquid, 160 loose fruit and veg, and a variety of beers and wines on tap.
Meanwhile, this week M&S launched a new, widely recyclable terracotta CPET tray to replace the hard-to-recycle black plastic used in its ready meals – starting with its Italian ready meals range.
The retailer pledged to completely remove all black plastic from its food division by the end of 2020.
Other retailers that have already removed black plastic from its ready meals include Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.
As part of its plastic reduction plan, M&S said it has already removed 1000 tonnes of plastic packaging from across its business and is working to ensure all its packaging is widely recyclable by 2022.