British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) has launched more than 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging in a trial at its Tolworth store in the UK.
M&S has introduced trained greengrocers to support the trial in order to offer customers advice while they select plastic free packaged fruit and vegetables from two aisles.
Along with the hard fruit and vegetables like potatoes and bananas, the range also includes perishable items like soft fruits and berries. The fruits and vegetables are to be retained in compostable punnets.
As part of the store trial, M&S has removed the best before date labels from fresh fruit and vegetables. The Green grocers appointed at the store not only help customers with picking and weighing their products, but also suggest best ways to preserve fresh produce and prevent food waste at home.
M&S claims that along with the initiatives at Tolworth Store, it has committed to launch additional lines of loose produce and more sustainable alternatives to plastic in every UK store. It is expected to save 580 tons of plastic waste over two years alone.
The plan is expected to involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and gradually reducing use of plastic barcode stickers in favor of eco-friendly alternatives.
M&S food sustainability head Louise Nicholls said: “We’re proud to launch a series of market-leading initiatives to help our customers take home less plastic. We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025.
“That’s why we’re working hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use without compromising on food quality and contributing to waste.
M&S claims that the three-month trial at Tolworth will be the springboard for its long-term plastic reduction strategy, providing insights and customer feedback for an effective approach across all stores.
Nicholls added: “Our trial at Tolworth is an important milestone in our plastic reduction journey and bringing back the traditional greengrocer will play a key part in educating our customers. Our plan is to create long-term impact in the future using tangible insights from the Tolworth store trial.”
The initiative is expected to support M&S’s target of becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. As part of its plastics plan, it has already brought down 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery in its stores each year and replaced two million straws with paper alternatives.
The initiative aims to remove 1,000tons of plastic packaging by Spring 2019. All of its packaging will be ‘widely recycled’ by 2022 in a bid to help customers to recycle more.