// Iceland announces 29% reduction in plastic usage
// Retailer says 3794 tonnes has been removed to date, the equivalent weight of 36 blue whales
// Two years ago Iceland made a UK-first pledge to remove plastic entirely from own-label products by the end of 2023
Iceland has announced a reduction of 29 per cent in its overall plastics packaging usage, two years on from the retailer’s industry-leading pledge to remove plastics from all own-label product packaging by the end of 2023.
The frozen food retailer said it was the first globally to make such a commitment, and added that it remains the only UK grocer to have pledged to remove plastic in its entirety from its own label range.
Iceland boasted that the 29 per cent reduction reflects a removal of 3794 tonnes from its annual plastic usage, the equivalent weight of 36 blue whales.
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The retailer said it was still committed to winning its war on plastic “without passing a penny on to the customer”, by investing in making plastic-free sustainable solutions accessible to its millions.
Iceland said 74 lines from its frozen meals have been moved from non-recyclable black plastic and into paperboard-based trays.
In addition to its work to remove black plastic, Iceland said it made “significant progress” in addressing other difficult-to-recycle plastics, including PVC and polystyrene.
“We received overwhelming support from the public when we announced our commitment back in January 2018, and I’m enormously proud of the progress we’ve made over the past two years,” Iceland managing director Richard Walker said.
“To have removed 29 per cent at this stage is a real milestone in our journey and we continue to innovate and develop, week by week and tonne by tonne.
“The scale of the challenge we have taken on is huge, partly because of the lack of alternative solutions in some instances, the infrastructure in the manufacturing industry which in many cases is built around plastic usage, and of course the fact that we are the only retailer to have made a ‘totality’ commitment.
“Whilst we have seen a promising shift away from plastic usage across the industry and a significant increase in consumer awareness of the issue since the beginning of 2018, we remain the only retailer to have made this pledge.
“We’re now looking ahead to the next phase of our journey, whilst continuing to engage our customers by finding scalable and user friendly solutions, truly democratising choice to make sustainable packaging options an affordable reality for everyone.”
Iceland said it engaged almost 100 own label suppliers to establish working groups and set out frameworks for plastic removal, with a redevelopment plan set out for each and every line.
The retailer also collaborated with operations colleagues and conducted research with customers to ensure that solutions developed were fit for purpose.
In addition, it said it was encouraging all of its branded suppliers to take a collaborative approach on plastic packaging reduction.
Iceland’s wider war on plastic includes a large-scale trial which has reduced plastic across produce lines by 93 per cent, the UK’s first plastic bag free store, the offer of a reduced plastic Christmas range, and installation of reverse vending machines in stores – which have so far collected over 1.2 million plastic bottles.
The retailer added that store operations have been addressed to remove plastic where possible, with the aim of reducing plastic footprint as much as possible.
This included the development and large-scale trial of a super strong, reusable paper carrier bag.