Through “product innovation and redesign”, Asda says it has reduced plastic in almost 1,000 individual product lines – from fresh fruit and veg to electronics and homewares – removing the equivalent weight of 600 million empty plastic bottles.
Some of the changes implemented over the last 12 months include swapping family chilled ready meal trays from black plastic to foil; changing pizza bases from non-recyclable polystyrene to fully recyclable cardboard; and replacing 5 million plastic bags on its bedding range with a cardboard band.
Asda has also removed plastic covers off over 50 million greetings cardsand removed plastic windows and film from over 1.6 million mince pies at Christmas.
Roger Burnley, President and CEO of Asda – “In many cases packaging is still essential to protect against waste, but avoiding the use of unnecessary plastic will rightly be the starting point for all of our packaging designs in future.”
In addition, Asda has taken steps to make its packaging more recyclable, it says, including changing all of its fresh produce trays from black plastic to clear, as it moves towards making all of its packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.
As it hits this first year reduction milestone, the retailer has acknowledged that this is only the beginning of the journey and has committed to continuing its focus on reducing the amount of plastic used in packaging, as well as working with industry bodies and relevant organisations to share best practice and develop new ideas.
A significant change includes the introduction of a new plastic principle embedded throughout the business, which will ensure all new packaging designs avoid the use of unnecessary plastic without impacting on food waste or shelf life. Where there is no current viable alternative to plastic, Asda has pledged to use the most recyclable materials made from recycled content wherever possible.
Asda is also continuing to work with packaging experts at Leeds Beckett University to look for and assess alternative packaging materials, and will publish its first report later this year.
Roger Burnley, President and CEO of Asda said: “Making changes of this scale in a business of this size is never easy, but I was clear last year that we needed to take a root and branch review of what packaging we use for our products.
“Our customers expected this of us and while we’ve reached a major milestone, we know there is more that can be done and we are committed to making meaningful changes wherever possible. In many cases packaging is still essential to protect against waste, but avoiding the use of unnecessary plastic will rightly be the starting point for all of our packaging designs in future.”