Asda brings recycled plastic target forward five years

Asda has brought the deadline for its target of ensuring that 30% of plastics used in packaging comes from recycled feedstocks, originally set for 2025, forward to 2020.

Asda has removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic packaging from its own-brand lines to date. Image: Elliott Brown

Asda has removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic packaging from its own-brand lines to date. Image: Elliott Brown

The supermarket claims that the commitment, which applies to all of its own-branded products sold in the UK and Ireland, will reduce its annual virgin plastic use by 19,500 tonnes.

In a drive to bolster this pledge, Asda has additionally set a further target to reduce the total amount of plastics used in its own-brand packaging by 15% by February 2021, against a 2018 baseline. This reduction will be measured in weight.

Among the measures Asda will use to deliver this reduction are refillable and reusable packaging solutions, due to be trialled in 2020. The retailer hasn’t yet confirmed which lines the refill offerings will be covering, but competitor Waitrose & Partners is notably trialling packaging-free lines of more than 200 products, including grains, alcoholic beverages and washing-up liquid.

Asda has additionally written to all of its suppliers with an open invitation, asking them to put forward innovative solutions which reduce plastics, enable reuse or boost recycled content. The letter commits Asda to giving suppliers the opportunity to test their packaging innovations in a real store and to collect customer feedback over a three-month period.

Signed by Asda’s chief executive Roger Burnley, the letter states: “Whilst we all take seriously our responsibility to ensure products reach our customers in the best condition, some of our packaging decisions have been more about making our lives simple, than considering the impact we have on the wider environment.

“We know that our customers will always look to us to provide great value products that meet their needs – and they need us to be a part of the solution in tackling the global plastics crisis, not part of the problem.”

Plastics action

Since February 2018, Asda has been “mapping” and plastics use across its entire business to identify “hotspots” and to implement strategic removals and reduction.

This ongoing exercise has enabled the firm to remove more than 6,500 tonnes of plastics packaging from its own-brand range to date.

Switches which have driven this reduction include the removal of plastics packaging from potted herbs; plastic sleeves from greetings cards; plastic straws from shelves and in-store cafes; and windows from mince pie multipacks.

More recently, the company has begun trialling the removal of plastic netting from clementines, replacing it with a plant-based spray that purports to extend shelf life while being biodegradable.

Asda has also taken steps to make its plastic packaging more recyclable. Over the course of 2018, the company changed all its fresh produce trays from black plastic – which can’t be recycled in traditional recycling facilities – to clear alternatives.

Sarah George



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