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UK: Iceland trials plastic-free and ‘reduced plastic’ packaging for potatoes and fish

Discount Frozen Foods Retail Chain Iceland latest moves have the potential to save 96 tonnes of plastic a year. It has extended its efforts with plastic-free and ‘reduced plastic packaging’, using paper and cartonboard for potatoes and fish.

The frozen discounter food specialist has begun selling British White Potatoes in paper bags, replacing a plastic version. Meanwhile packs of four Atlantic Cod Fillets and eight other fish lines have been moved to a cartonboard box, still using some plastic but 90% less than the old version.

The new potato packaging has launched in 33 stores in London while the fish packaging is being trialled in 17 stores in the Manchester area. Iceland has been experimenting with plastic-free and “reduced plastic packaging” alternatives since the start of last year, when it came up with new solutions for 38 fruit & veg lines such as paper bands for spring onions. In April this year, the retailer moved Pink Lady Apples from plastic to a cardboard tray with a paper band in all stores.

The latest moves on potatoes and fish have the potential to save 96 tonnes of plastic a year, according to Iceland, which is monitoring customer feedback. The new solution for fish could alone save a claimed 84 tonnes of the material a year in the 17-store trial.

“Removing and reducing plastic from our new potato and fish packaging formats will help our customers have a more sustainable fish and chips dinner whilst helping us to reduce our plastic footprint,” said Iceland MD Richard Walker.

“If successful, this trial will continue to support the permanent introduction of plastic-free and reduced plastic packaging alternatives, taking us another step closer towards meeting our commitment.”

Since early 2018, Iceland has been committed to eliminating plastic packaging from own label lines by the end of 2023. In an update in 2019, the business said it had so far removed 3,794 tonnes.

In a blog in June this year, Walker warned meeting the 2023 deadline was looking “increasingly challenging” after a surge in demand for packaged goods in stores during the pandemic.

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