UK supermarkets to trial world’s first plastic-free, recyclable sandwich packaging

Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Aldi will run trials of Greencore’s fully recyclable sandwich skillets, which are made of plastic-free packaging.

Convenience food manufacturer Greencore will soon begin trials for the world’s first plastic-free, fully recyclable sandwich skillet in UK supermarkets.

Scheduled for September, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Aldi stores will see the paper-based, all-fibre sandwich packaging trialled in their stores. The recyclable sandwich skillet is claimed to be the world’s first of its kind and has been developed in partnership with flexible packaging company ProAmpac.

Greencore said the sandwiches will have the same shelf life as if they were packaged in traditional skillet. If the trials are successful and all performance criteria are met, the recyclable packaging will be rolled out later in the year, with Greencore expecting to make the new skillets available to the wider UK market.

Andy Wright, head of sustainability at Greencore, said developing the fully recyclable sandwich skillet is a key way to reduce waste and contribute to environmental protection. But he added that it isn’t a problem the company can solve alone: “The complexities of the challenges we face require collective action, inside and outside our industry, and Greencore is pleased to have such supportive customers who share our enthusiasm for making great food for all, that’s accessible, healthy and sustainable.”

Greencore estimated that around 600 million pre-packed sandwiches are consumed in the UK every year — just over 1,100 every minute. If the plastic-free packaging is adopted as standard practice, there is significant potential for reducing plastic waste and improved recycling rates.

Sainsbury’s director of product, packaging and innovation, Claire Hughes, said: “We are committed to making recycling easier for our customers while reducing our use of plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 and working collaboratively with our suppliers is key to achieving our targets and driving change.”

Breige Donaghy, director of Co-op’s Delicious Food, added: “The trial aligns with Co-op’s ambition to reduce the use of virgin plastic and how we’ve also worked to ensure that all of our own-brand packaging is now fully recyclable. We’re looking forward to seeing the new packaging on shelves this autumn and are confident it will resonate with our members and customers.”

Read our story on how companies are innovating with plastic alternatives in packaging.

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