Leading retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a three-month trial of over 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables free of plastic packaging.
Starting today (16 January), the trial at the store the retailer’s store in Tolworth, Kingston-upon-Thames is part of the retailer’s commitment to reduce the amount of plastic it uses in its product.
The range includes hard fruit and vegetables, along with more perishable items such as soft fruits and berries which will be retailed in compostable punnets.
Typically the material would be packaged in Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) film – a material that is only accepted in 10% of council kerbside recycling collection systems in the UK, and for which there are limited markets for post-consumer material.
To support the trial, M&S has introduced trained greengrocers, who will offer customers advice as they select from two aisles of fruit and vegetables.
Greengrocers will provide tips on how best to preserve fresh produce and prevent food waste at home, as M&S says it has removed ‘best before’ date labels from fresh fruit and vegetables as part of the trial.
M&S has said it will also launch additional lines of loose produce and alternatives to plastic packaging in every UK store, which the retailer says could save 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years.
The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers.
Louise Nicholls, head of food sustainability, said: “We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025. That’s why we’re working hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use without compromising on food quality and contributing to waste.
“Our trial at Tolworth is an important milestone in our plastic reduction journey and bringing back the traditional greengrocer will play a key part in educating our customers. Our plan is to create long-term impact in the future using tangible insights from the Tolworth store trial.”
The initiative is one step in M&S’s target of becoming a zero-waste business by 2025.
According to M&S, all of its packaging will be ‘widely recycled’ by 2022 in a bid to “help customers to recycle more”.
The National Food Waste Conference
27 March 2019
Cavendish Conference Centre, London