UK supermarkets unpack plans for a plastic-free future

Morrisons will become the first British supermarket to roll out plastic-free fruit and veg areas in many of its stores.

Customers will be able to choose from up to 127 varieties of fruit and veg. They’ll then be able to buy them loose or put them in recyclable paper bags.

The move follows a ten-month trial in three Morrisons stores in Skipton, Guiseley and St Ives. Across the stores, says Morrisons, sales of loose fruit and veg rose by an average of 40 per cent.

The supermarket expects the new ‘buy bagless’ fruit and veg shelves to result in a similar switch from bagged to loose. The move would save an estimated three tonnes of plastic a week, equating to 156 tonnes a year.

Customers will see an entire section of the fruit and veg department with no plastic. But there’ll also be a neighbouring section where customers can still buy packaged veg, if they choose. When customers buy loose fruit and veg, they can either take them through the checkout loose or bag them in Morrisons recyclable paper bags.

Morrisons says it will roll out the loose fruit and veg areas in 60 stores during 2019. The loose veg range includes everyday essentials such as carrots, potatoes and onions. There are also more unusual seasonal varieties such as celeriac.

Fruit will include apples, pears and oranges, plus figs, persimmons and pomegranates. The expansion of the range means that, for the first time, customers will also be able to buy loose cauliflower, white cabbage and chestnut mushrooms.

Morrisons details its plastic-reduction initiatives in its 2018 19 Corporate Responsibility Review. The review also says the group has reduced its carbon emissions by 45 per cent since 2005.

Sainsbury’s sustainability strategy 

Sainsbury’s has announced plastic free plans. The retailers has committed to cutting a further 1,284 tonnes of plastic this year.

This includes removing 489 tonnes’ worth of plastic bags, which are currently used for loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items.

By September, paper bags will be available to customers for loose bakery items. Customers buying loose fruit and vegetables will either be able to bring their own bags or buy a re-usable bag made from recycled materials.

Sainsbury’s says it has previously implemented measures that are already leading to a reduction of 8,101 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic and “virgin plastic” every year. Its latest efforts bring this total to over 10,000 tonnes. This is in addition to its commitments to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Sainsbury’s will also remove plastic cutlery from stores and will implement a number of other initiatives.

Waitrose weans customers off plastic 

Waitrose & Partners is testing a series of initiatives which are said to have the potential to save thousands of tonnes of unnecessary plastic and packaging.

The test, according to Waitrose, is designed to help determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future.

The retailer has transformed its Botley Road shop in Oxford and taken hundreds of products out of its packaging.

The test, which will be branded strongly with ‘Waitrose Unpacked’ across the shop, will run for a period of 11 weeks until August 18 as the supermarket seeks as much feedback as possible.

Check Also

Woolworths launches drought action appeal with charities

Woolworths is doing its bit to help support communities that are experiencing some of the …