Iceland aims to put a ‘freeze’ on their plastic use by 2023!

Best known for their frozen specialism and natty tagline, Iceland has announced today that it will be the first supermarket committing to eliminating all plastic packaging from their own brand products by the end of 2023.

To put this into perspective, the retail grocery sector alone accounted for 1 million tonnes of plastic packaging waste in 2014. Only 38% of global plastic packaging waste was recycled during this period, with almost 1.4 million tonnes of plastic going to disposal - ending up in either landfill or incinerated.[1]

The biggest issue with these types of single-use plastics is that they are not used correctly with customer contact time being minimal. Our campaign DESTRAW highlights this very issue - for example, disposable straws are used once for about 20 minutes, and once thrown away, they can last hundreds of years before they break down into microplastics. They are also listed as the 7th most collected debris in the Ocean Conservancy coastal clean-ups.[2] Of course, drinking things like a milkshake are far easier with a straw, but there are plenty of plastic free alternatives, such as paper or stainless steel…

So why is the Iceland announcement such a big deal? Well, the prevalent issue with black plastic ready meal packaging is that due to their dark pigments the materials cannot be sorted optically in the sorts of systems that are widely used in plastics recycling.[3] These trays then end up being disposed in landfill or recycled into lower value materials where polymer sorting is not necessary.

Iceland have already removed disposable plastic straws from their own range and it’s a HUGE step forward for such a large retailer to be eliminating plastic packaging from their products. It’s not about limiting consumer options, it’s about giving consumers better and smarter packaged products - smarter because it considers their use, lifespan and environmental effects.

At Plastic Free Pledge we are all REALLY excited by this announcement and the only question we have is... When are the other supermarkets following suit…?

Jake Arney