Removing unnecessary plastics is a priority for us– and something we know is equally important to our customers. Over the next few years we’ll be removing unnecessary packaging where we can, and introducing alternative packaging materials to make recycling easier for our customers. Our ultimate aim is to eliminate unnecessary plastic and make all our own-brand packaging reusable or out of widely recyclable or home-compostable material by 2023.
We’ve made great progress already, with over 85% of our own-brand packaging now meeting our recyclable, reusable or home compostable goal. But we know there’s more we need to do, and that’s why in 2018 we made the decision to bring forward our target by two years, from 2025 to 2023.
Plastic in our products
We’ve taken steps to eliminate unnecessary plastic - for example we no longer provide disposable coffee cups in our stores, have stopped selling packs of disposable plastic drinking straws, and have switched our plastic stem cotton buds to paper. We were also the first supermarket to stop selling products containing microbeads.
In our fruit and veg aisles we are replacing loose plastic bags with bags that can go in the home compost or be used as a food waste caddy liner. We estimate this will save 71 million plastic bags a year. We’ve also introduced a reusable bag for fruit and veg that customers can buy and of course we’ve now removed 5p single-use plastic carrier bags from all our stores.
Click here for more information about our carrier bags.
For the past year we’ve encouraged customers to bring their own clean, lidded reusable containers to our meat and fish counters to save plastic bags. Since 2017 we’ve reduced the number of bags provided on our counters by five million. We’re also trialling a more comprehensive loose fruit and veg range and working with customers to find out which products still need protecting to preserve their quality and reduce food waste.
Plastics in our supply chain
Plastics are used throughout supermarket supply chains. In 2018 we signed up to the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (www.ghostgear.org), which aims to protect marine life and minimise plastic pollution from abandoned fishing equipment. We’re also working with stakeholders across the fishing industry to find solutions to lost and discarded fishing equipment.
We regularly share our plans at supplier and farming conferences to encourage those attending to share ideas on ways to minimise the use of plastics in our supply chains.
We’re reaching out beyond our supply chains
But we don’t just want to tackle plastic use in our supply chains, products, stores and communities. That’s why we’re proud to have donated £500,000 to the Association of Commonwealth Universities to support academic fellowships which will drive solutions to plastic pollution. We have also launched Plan Plastic – the Million Pound Challenge, which provides grants of £150,000-£300,000 to projects that rethink how we all use and dispose of plastic now or in the future.