Iceland trials plastic-free bread and potato packaging as Subway debuts cardboard salad boxes

Supermarket giant Iceland has begun trialling plastic-free packaging on products including potatoes and loaves of bread, in the same week that Subway confirmed plans to phase-out plastic salad bowls.

Switches already made at Iceland stores include cardboard packaging for frozen lines like pies and desserts; paper shopping bags, instead of plastic bags-for-life; and loose vegetables and fruit instead of pre-bagged multipacks

Switches already made at Iceland stores include cardboard packaging for frozen lines like pies and desserts; paper shopping bags, instead of plastic bags-for-life; and loose vegetables and fruit instead of pre-bagged multipacks

New packaging formats introduced to selected Iceland stores across the UK this week include paper-based containers for sliced white bloomer loaves, baby salad potatoes, conference pears and gala apples. The packaging is plastic-free and Iceland claims it can be recycled at kerbside by most local authorities.

Iceland is also trialling a card-based alternative to the trays used to house its button mushrooms, blueberries and strawberries. The new format still uses a plastic film lid, given that these products are easily damaged.

If the trials prove successful, Iceland will work to roll out the new packaging across its own-brand bread, fruit and vegetable lines. It estimates that a nationwide rollout would mitigate the use of more than 350 tonnes of plastic annually.

Iceland’s managing director Richard Walker said the trials “represent an important step” towards the retailer’s commitment to remove 100% of the plastic from all own-brand products by the end of 2023. The commitment was made in 2018 and Iceland has recorded a 29% decrease in plastic use on own-brand lines since then.

“We recently called on big businesses to join us in publishing their full plastic footprint, to support our call for enhanced transparency,” Walker said. “Now, we are asking our customers to try these plastic free alternatives, as we continue to turn down our tap on plastic production.”

Iceland is notably working with campaign group A Plastic Planet to communicate its plastics progress. A Plastic Planet’s “plastic-free trust mark” logo now features on several popular Iceland products and has also been adopted by the likes of tea brand Teapigs and Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza.  

Salad days

In related news, Subway has announced plans this week to remove plastic salad bowls and lids from all of its UK and Ireland restaurants.

The packaging will be replaced with a cardboard box instead, which the fast-food giant claims is recyclable and has lower life-cycle impacts. It is estimated that the move will save 461 tonnes of single-use plastic annually.

Subway stores in the UK and Ireland will begin stocking the new packaging from Friday 30 October.

The to-go sandwich chain updated its global CSR strategy earlier this year. Its updated approach to packaging consists of pledges to remove single-use plastic wherever possible; to use less packaging, by weight; and to improve recyclability.

It’s been something of a busy week for commitments relating to plastic packaging. New initiatives have been unveiled by the likes of Britvic, Bacardi and Asda over the past few days. 

Sarah George



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