Iceland has become the first supermarket globally to commit to removing plastic packaging from its own-brand goods.
The firm said its 1,400 own-brand products would switch to paper-based packaging within the next five years.
Iceland said research it commissioned involving 5,000 respondents showed eight in 10 consumers would support a supermarket going plastic-free and 91% would be more likely to encourage friends and families to shop there.
Nigel Broadhurst, joint MD of Iceland and in charge of packaging, told the BBC’s Today programme 100m black plastic food trays would be replaced.
“Black plastic is the worst option in terms of toxins going into the ground,” he said. “There are a lot of developments coming through in terms of paper-based products which are very capable of replacing plastic.”
Broadhurst added it was important to ensure wood pulp came from sustainable sources.
The move comes against a background of rising awareness about plastic pollution in the oceans. Greenpeace estimates more than 12m tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. Statistics collected by the Co-op suggest just a third of plastics in the UK are recycled.
Broadhurst said he hoped other supermarkets and manufacturers would follow their lead. “This is not an Iceland-only exclusive piece of activity. We are saying someone needs to take a stand,” he said.
“By making the stand ourselves and getting the subject onto the agenda hopefully we can put pressure on the manufacturers to do down the same route.”
John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director, said: “It’s now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge. The tidal wave of plastic pollution will only start to recede when they turn off the tap.
“They know the scale of systemic change we need, and yet their responses have been timid and piecemeal. Iceland has offered a more radical solution that shows the way forward for the sector.”
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