Iceland to reduce fresh produce plastic packaging by 93%

Iceland has launched an industry-leading trial that will see the retailer reduce its plastic packaging by 93% across a range of fresh produce.

The trial launched on 22 January in 33 of Iceland’s stores across London and the South East region, and will offer customers the opportunity to buy 38 fresh fruit and vegetable lines in innovative new packaging solutions that are either plastic-free or have a significantly reduced plastic content.

Iceland is expecting the trial alone to remove seven tonnes of plastic, reflecting the growing consumer appetite to reduce plastic consumption. The trial is the latest in a series of industry-leading initiatives launched by the retailer, which was the first globally to commit to remove plastic from all own label products by the end of 2023.

The trial will see 29 plastic-free or reduced plastic solutions used for the first time in the UK, and will include apples, mixed peppers, potatoes and carrots in plastic-free packaging. The
solutions have been developed and tested in partnership with Iceland’s produce and packaging suppliers and the trial represents the culmination of months of development.
Phase one of the trial will see 27 products launched in redeveloped packaging, with a further eleven products being added in Phase Two which will launch on 4 March.

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland, commented, “We understand that consumers are particularly aware of the amount of plastic being used to package produce across the industry and we’ve been working hard to develop user-friendly, sustainable alternatives.

'This trial is the largest ever of its kind and we’re excited to see how customers respond to the range of solutions provided. The trial is truly scalable and our findings will help to further define our strategy for eliminating plastic across our produce offering.

“Most importantly, customers will not have to pay a premium for the plastic-free or reduced plastic products as prices will remain exactly the same, and we’re proud to be democratising choice in this way.”

Phase 2 of the trial will see the rollout of new fixtures for bananas, a third iteration of the first trial for plastic-free bananas which initially proved to be unsuccessful. The trial of paper band packaging for bananas was stopped in early 2019 when the banded product was shown to increase food waste in stores. New fixtures were then successfully trialled, an example of how Iceland takes a trial and error approach, innovating to fulfil its leadership level commitment.

“When we made our industry-leading commitment to remove plastic from our own label products, we knew we would encounter obstacles along the way, including unsuccessful launches. We continue to be transparent with our customers about our successes and learnings, and bring them along on the journey as we use their feedback to improve and innovate,” Richard added.