Asda has become the latest UK retailer to outline its plans to reduce plastic packaging as part of the ongoing war on waste.
The supermarket group has vowed to reduce the amount of plastic in its own-brand packaging by 10% this year, while working with suppliers to find more recyclable solutions.
Additionally, Asda announced plans to introduce reusable coffee cups for customers and remove all single-use cups, plastic cutlery and straws from its offices in 2018, and from stores and cafes by the end of 2019.
The retailer also said it will phase out 5p single-use carrier bags from its stores by the end of 2018 and donate money from the sale of its reusable ‘bags for life’ to charity.
“I truly believe that when you serve 18 million people each week and have the ability to make a difference to them, you should do it,” said Roger Burnely, Asda’s president and chief executive.
“I want Asda’s customers to know that they can trust us to take the lead on the issues that really matter to them, so we have challenged ourselves to look at what more we can do to reduce the amount of plastic in our business, and within our industry as a whole,” Burnely added.
Asda, which is owned by retail giant Walmart, has already committed to making all of its own-brand packaging fully recyclable by 2025, saying that it is exploring ways to reach this goal.
The supermarket group says that it will work in partnership with experts in packaging technology at the Leeds Beckett University Retail Institute, as well as one of the company’s biggest suppliers, ABP, on projects to develop new alternatives to plastics.
It also announced that it is creating the Asda Plastic Ideas Hub, which will offer a £10,000 award for every scaleable, workable idea that helps the retailer tackle its top plastic challenges.
“Whilst we recognise that, currently, plastic is the best option for some products, we don’t want it to be the only option,” added Burnley.
“Tackling our reliance on plastic isn’t something that can be done in isolation. It needs partnership, collaboration, and fresh thinking to create the best solution,” he said.
Discussions of plastic packaging have dominated UK headlines recently, following the announcement of Prime Minister Theresa May’s 25-year plan for reducing waste and tackling climate change.
In a speech made last month, May pledged to eliminate all “avoidable” plastic waste by 2042, and proposed extending the levy on plastic bags and introducing plastic-free aisles in supermarkets.
Several supermarkets and suppliers have already made statements about their efforts to reduce waste, including frozen-food retailer Iceland, which pledged that its private-label range will be plastic-free by 2023, and upmarket grocer Waitrose, which vowed to stop selling private-label food in black plastic packaging by the end of 2019.
With this announcement, Asda has become the first of the country’s Big Four grocery retailers to set out detailed plans for plastic reduction.
Asda is the third-largest supermarket in the UK, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel, with 15.5% market share, behind Tesco (28.2%) and Sainsbury’s (16.7%).
© 2018 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Sarah Harford. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.