Marks & Spencer (M&S) has stepped up its commitment to reducing the amount of plastic it uses by launching more than 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging in a trial at its Tolworth store in Surrey.
To support the trial, M&S has introduced trained greengrocers, who will be on hand to offer customers advice as they select from two aisles of fruit and vegetables free of plastic packaging. The range not only includes hard fruit and veg like potatoes and bananas but also more perishable items such as soft fruits and berries, which will be retailed in compostable punnets.
In addition to helping customers pick and weigh their products, the greengrocers will provide tips on how to preserve fresh produce and prevent food waste at home, as M&S has removed ‘best before’ date labels from fresh fruit and veg as part of the store trial.
Alongside this initiative, M&S has pledged to launch additional lines of loose produce and more sustainable alternatives to plastic in every UK store, which could save 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years alone. The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.
The retailer has already phased out 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in its stores each year and replaced two million straws with paper alternatives as part of its plan, which aims to remove 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by Spring 2019. All of M&S’ packaging will be ‘widely recycled’ by 2022 in a bid to help customers recycle more.
M&S head of food sustainability 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.
“Our three-month 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 trial.”