Iceland slashes plastics packaging across Christmas range by 97%

The plastic-free range (pictured) is designed to help shoppers create a three-course meal. Image: Iceland

As it works to eliminate all single-use plastics packaging from its own-brand products by 2023 – the most ambitious plastics reduction commitment of any major UK supermarket – Iceland has released a range of plastic-free products which shoppers could use to create a three-course festive meal.

Products included in this 18-line range include vegetables, frozen desserts, wax-wrapped cheeses, beef wellington, pies and pasties.

Iceland has also reduced the amount of plastics used to house a further eight of its best-selling Christmas lines, including selected turkey dishes, pickles and sauces, and ruby port.

In total, the retailer claims that these products contain 97% less plastics packaging than they did in 2017, before Iceland’s 2023 commitment was announced.

Since setting the target, which is bolstered by an interim target to eliminate hard-to-recycle black plastics by January 2020, Iceland has removed more than 2,100 tonnes of plastic from shelves. Switches to date have included cardboard bands for banana bunches, instead of plastic bags; paper shopping bags, instead of plastic bags-for-life; and loose vegetables and fruit instead of pre-bagged multipacks.

“Christmas is a crucial time of year which sees retailers go head to head on product innovation, and we were keen to incorporate our sustainability efforts into this,” Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said.

“We know that there is a significant appetite for reduced plastic packaging and that plastic consumption increases significantly at Christmas, so we were keen to take on the challenge and demonstrate to the industry and our consumers that it’s possible to have a sustainable Christmas.”

I’m dreaming of a plastic-free Christmas…

According to Walker, Iceland’s work to develop plastic-free and low-plastic packaging alternatives for its Christmas line has been ongoing all year, with hundreds of alternatives having been tested by the retailer’s R&D team.

Other retailers debuting plastic-free products this Christmas in a bid to win over consumers include Boots, Selfridges, which has switched to home-compostable alternatives for mince pies and Christmas cakes and John Lewis Partnership, which is selling ‘fill your own’ plastic-free crackers as it strives to phase-out plastic cracker toys by Christmas 2020 and piloting dozens of loose grocery lines.

Elsewhere, many major supermarkets are working to phase-out plastic glitter from their own-brand ranges of products such as cards, decorations and wrapping paper. Retailers to have set time-bound glitter-free targets include Waitrose & Partners, Aldi UK and Tesco.

Sarah George

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