NEWS: Iceland 'ready to try again'

Up to 440 tonnes of plastic a year could be cut under plans by Iceland to reduce packaging on fresh vegetables - following previous failed attempts.

The trial, being introduced in phases, will offer new 'fixtures' for bananas after a previous attempt was abandoned for increasing waste.

Last year the supermarket had to reintroduce plastic packaging because the little paper sash keeping the bunches together allowed the bananas to shrink and rot (pictured below).

In 2019 the supermarket also scrapped a loose fruit and veg isle after a 30 per cent drop in sales at its test store in North Liverpool.

Iceland says it will now trial 29 plastic-free packaging 'solutions' in a UK first for things like apples, mixed peppers, potatoes and carrots - saving seven million tonnes of plastic a year in the trial stores.

The initiative, covering 38 products in total, will be rolled out in 33 stores.

Bosses say the changes will not result in shoppers having to pay a premium for reduced packaging.

The supermarket was the first globally to commit to remove plastic from all own label products by the end of 2023.

Phase one of the trial will see 27 products launched in 'redeveloped packaging' with a further eleven products being added in phase two which will launch on March 4.

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland, said: “We understand that consumers are particularly aware of the amount of plastic being used to package produce across the industry and we’ve been working hard to develop user-friendly, sustainable alternatives.

"This trial is the largest ever of its kind and we’re excited to see how customers respond to the range of solutions provided.

The trial of paper band packaging for bananas was stopped in early 2019 when the banded product was shown to increase food waste in stores.

"The trial is truly scalable and our findings will help to further define our strategy for eliminating plastic across our produce offering.

“Most importantly, customers will not have to pay a premium for the plastic-free or reduced plastic products as prices will remain exactly the same, and we’re proud to be democratising choice in this way.”

Phase two of the trial will see the roll-out of new fixtures for bananas - the retailer's third iteration.

The trial of paper band packaging for bananas (pictured) was stopped in early 2019 when the product was shown to increase food waste in stores.

New fixtures were then successfully trialled which the company says is 'an example of how Iceland takes a trial and error approach, innovating to fulfil its leadership level commitment'.

Mr Walker added: "When we made our industry-leading commitment to remove plastic from our own label products. We knew we would encounter obstacles along the way, including unsuccessful launches.

"We continue to be transparent with our customers about our successes and learnings - and bring them along on the journey as we use their feedback to improve and innovate."

“Most importantly, customers will not have to pay a premium for the plastic-free or reduced plastic products as prices will remain exactly the same, and we’re proud to be democratising choice in this way.”

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