Asda on a quest to plastic pollution solution

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ALMOST a third of Asda’s own-brand plastic packaging will come from recycled materials by the end of next year, under new commitments set out by the supermarket to reduce its plastic use.

In a move to accelerate its current commitments, the supermarket has brought forward its target to reach 30% recycled content in its plastic packaging to the end of 2020 – five years ahead of its original deadline – avoiding the use of approximately 19,500 tonnes of ‘virgin’ plastic.

“The elimination of avoidable plastic, and crucially single-use plastic, is at the top of our minds – and at the top of our customers’ minds”, Roger Burnley, Asda CEO, said.

“While we have already made great progress in reducing plastic in our business, we are committed to identifying new opportunities to go further and do more.

“Our focus is on removing unnecessary plastic, and where packaging is beneficial to the life of a product we will trial new solutions that are as recycled and as recyclable as possible.”

Asda has also set out the next stage of its overall plastic reduction plans, with a new target to reduce the total amount of plastic used in its own-brand packaging by 15% by February 2021.

It will also trial a number of new refillable and reusable packaging solutions during 2020 as part of its ‘test and learn’ approach to innovation.

Since February last year, Asda has been reviewing plastic use across its entire business, removing more than 6,500 tonnes of plastic packaging from its own brand range – equivalent to the weight of 600 million plastic bottles.

It will no longer produce non-detectable black plastic in its own-brand by the end of this year and will make all of its own-brand packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

As well as committing to addressing the plastic used in its Own Brand products, Asda is also calling on suppliers to collaborate with them on the plastic pollution solution.

The supermarket has written to all of its suppliers with an open invitation for manufacturers to come forward with new ideas around reduced, reusable or recycled plastic solutions.

Asda will commit to providing space and opportunity for suppliers to test packaging innovation in a real store, with real customer feedback, whether the ideas are currently scalable to one shop or to hundreds.

Trials will last for at least three months, giving both Asda and its suppliers the opportunity to review and move on where things aren’t working, with the aim to think big, start small and scale fast.

Initiatives taken by Asda over the past 18 months include:

  • Reducing or removing 6,500 tonnes of plastic from more than 1000 product lines, including going completely plastic-free on growing herbs, taking plastic covers off 50 million greetings cards and removing windows and film from 1.6 million mince pies.
  • Being the first supermarket to remove single-use 5p carrier bags from both stores and grocery home shopping.
  • Removing 110 million plastic straws from circulation from both its cafes and in its party range.
  • Switching its entire chilled ready meal range into recyclable trays – a supermarket first.
  • Trialling a new solution from Apeel Sciences that extends the shelf life of fresh fruit and vegetables, with the potential to reduce the amount of packaging required.
  • Introducing reusable fresh produce bags, to encourage customers to move away from single use.
  • Committing to using polyester only from recycled sources in its George and George Home ranges by 2025.