Iceland relaunches plastic-free packaging after initial trials fail with shoppers

23 Jul 2019

pri76862094

'We've got to keep experimenting'

Supermarket chain Iceland has announced plans to relaunch plastic-freepackaging after it was forced back to the drawing board on two key trials.

Earlier this year, Iceland launched paper-band packaging for its bananas as well as a plastic-free greengrocer trial in Liverpool which saw 35 items sold loose and 27 lines sold in packaging such as compostable punnets, paper bags and cellulose nets.

However, the supermarket had to reintroduce plastic packaging across its bananas this summer – equating to 10 million plastic bags a year – after its paper replacement failed to live up to expectations.

In May, Iceland also scrapped the greengrocer trial after just three months following a 20 per cent plunge in sales as loose produce and alternative packaging failed to resonate with local shoppers.

In an effort to observe its pledge to eliminate plastic from its own label products by 2023, Iceland isn’t giving up hope and has instead launched its latest efforts for new plastic-free banana packaging this week, with a trial across 20 stores from July 24.

It is also planning a new plastic-free greengrocer initiative that will run across more than 30 stores later this year, which will be focused on pre-packed produce rather than loose items in response to customer feedback from the failed trail.

Speaking to PA, Iceland boss Richard Walker admitted the group still has a “mountain to climb” when it comes to hitting its target but acknowledged that the company has come out fighting.

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

"It's good to be upfront and open about the challenges We've still got a mountain to climb - and we're still all on our own. No other supermarkets are following our lead."

Despite the recent challenges, Iceland has already taken out 1,500 tonnes of plastic across the supply chain, kicking off with the replacement of black plastic ready meal trays.

However, Walker said the company needs to be mindful of the impact such changes will have on its customers.

The announcement comes after a number of supermarkets have made efforts to ditch plastic over the past year.

Marks & Spencer launched a similar trial on 90 fruit and veg lines in January, and Morrisons replaced plastic bags with paper bags for its loose fruit and veg in June – a move it said would prevent 150m small plastic bags from being used every year.

"We serve five million customers a week and some only have £25 a week to spend on food - it's very important our prices are sharp," Walker said.

Iceland has not confirmed how much it is spending on its plastics-free pledge, except to say it is costing "millions".

Source: The Independent 

In May, Iceland also scrapped the greengrocer trial after just three months following a 20 per cent plunge in sales as loose produce and alternative packaging failed to resonate with local shoppers.

In an effort to observe its pledge to eliminate plastic from its own label products by 2023, Iceland isn’t giving up hope and has instead launched its latest efforts for new plastic-free banana packaging this week, with a trial across 20 stores from July 24.