British supermarket chain Iceland gives plastic the boot

British supermarket chain Iceland gives plastic the boot
Foto: Cristina Nixau /

British frozen food chain Iceland will be the first supermarket chain to cut all plastic packages from its private labels. By 2023, each of its 1,400 private label products will have more sustainable packaging, like cardboard and paper, alternatives to plastic.


“There really are no more excuses”

Iceland says it has a world exclusive in the fact that it will ban all plastic in its own products’ packaging. It will replace these with paper or wood pulp packaging, something more than 250 suppliers will have to adapt to.


The supermarket chain has more than 900 stores in the United Kingdom and recently researched how its customers would react if it banned plastic. Considering the fact that 80 % of its 5,000 surveyed customers reacted positively and 68 % felt other supermarkets should follow in its footsteps, Iceland persisted. “There really are no more excuses for excess packaging, needlessly creating more garbage and damaging our environment”, managing director Richard Walker said. Even though they cannot force brand manufacturers to go plastic-free, the chain will encourage suppliers to alter their packaging.


Iceland says it wants to become entirely plastic-free within five years’ time. It will soon replace the black plastic trays of a range of ready-made meals with woodpulp trays. Walker also promised to not only use recyclable packaging, but to actually recycle it. He is also in favour of a deposit for plastic bottles. It is up to retailers, which are one of the main causes for the enormous mountain of plastic waste and pollution, to rise up and execute change, Walker said. “The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics. A truckload is entering our oceans every minute, causing untold damage to our marine environment and ultimately humanity – since we all depend on the oceans for our survival.


United Kingdom bans plastic waste

The United Kingdom has reacted strongly recently to plastic waste in retail. A group of prominent retail figures, including former CEO’s for Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Asda and department store chain Debenhams recently appealed to get rid of plastic disposable packaging. “Over the past decade, British retailers focused mainly on recycling, to reduce the environmental impact of the plastic they manufacture. We have to accept that that is not enough: plastic recycling only recycles the problem. It is vital that retailers and packaging manufacturers collaborate to get rid of disposable packaging.”


A reduced plastic waste is also part of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s recently-revealed environmental plan. May considers it one of the biggest plagues of our time and promises to ban all avoidable plastic waste in the United Kingdom by 2042. In the meantime, the Prime Minister has asked supermarkets to launch a plastic-free aisle and to consider a tax on disposable packaging. She wants to levy a tax on pick-up trays and she also wants to force smaller stores to charge for plastic bags.