UK supermarket Asda has removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic from its own brand packaging over the last 12 months, the equivalent weight of around 600 million empty plastic bottles.
Asda has turned to innovation and product redesign to achieve the reduction. Since February 2018, plastic has been removed from almost 1,000 product lines – ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables to electronics and homewares.
The 6,500-tonne reduction was a milestone target set by Asda and is a welcome step towards a goal to make all its packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.
Asda’s president and chief executive, Roger Burnley 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.”
The company has replaced five million plastic bags on its bedding range with cardboard bands, removed plastic covers from more than 50 million greeting cards, changed pizza bases to fully recyclable cardboard and removed plastic windows and film from more than 1.6 million mince pies during the Christmas period.
Asda has also taken steps to make its plastic packaging more recyclable. Over the course of 2018, the company changed all its fresh produce trays from black plastic – which can’t be recycled in traditional recycling facilities – to clear alternatives.
Where there is no current viable alternative to plastic, Asda has pledged to use the most recyclable materials and materials made from recycled content.
Last year, Asda joined a consortium aimed at understanding how microfibre shedding occurs, in order to implement projects aimed at reducing how much volume seeps into the ocean. The Microfibre Consortium is one of many collaborative projects that Asda has recently involved itself in.
Asda has also teamed up with, for example, the likes of Unilever and Sainsbury’s to work on a Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) initiative to support progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The company, as part of the Natural Capital Impact Group, also unveiled a new set of metrics to help other organisations identify, measure, and value impacts and dependencies on natural assets, raw materials and natural infrastructure.