Greencore to trial ‘world’s first’ zero plastic sandwich skillet

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Greencore is to debut the 'world's first' all fibre, plastic free recyclable sandwich skillet
Greencore is to debut the 'world's first' all fibre, plastic free recyclable sandwich skillet

Related tags Packaging & labelling

Greencore is to begin trials for an all-fibre, plastic-free recyclable sandwich packaging in Co-op and Sainsbury’s stores across the country.

The recyclable sandwich skillet has been developed in partnership with ProAmpac and was reportedly the first of its type in the world. Made from paper-based material, the packaging has a plastic-free window and provides products with the same shelf life as if they were packaged in a traditional skillet.

Subject to successful trials – set to begin in September 2021 – and meeting all parties’ performance criteria, roll-out of the new packaging will begin later in the year. Greencore expects to make these new packaging techniques available to the wider UK market in time.

Reducing waste

Greencore head of sustainability Andy Wright said the development of the packing was key in reducing waste and helping customers ‘do their bit’ in protecting the environment.

“This is not a problem we can solve alone, though,” ​he added. “The complexities of the challenges we face require collective action, inside and outside our industry.

“Greencore is pleased to have such supportive customers who share our enthusiasm for making great food for all, that’s accessible, healthy and sustainable.”

Reductions in plastic usage

Reportedly more than 600m pre-packed sandwiches are consumed in the UK every year, or just over 1,100 every minute. The adoption of the fully recyclable skillet could hold the potential for significant reductions in plastic usage and increased recycling rates, Greencore claimed.

Claire Hughes, director of product, packaging and innovations at Sainsbury’s commented: “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.

The development of the new skillet has enabled Greencore to deliver one of the key commitments outlined in its 2020 Sustainability Report. Other commitments included:

  • All surplus product will be donated to local communities by 2022
  • A deforestation-free supply chain by 2025
  • All raw materials will be sustainably sourced by 2030
  • Product development will be equally split between animal protein versus plant-rich alternatives by 2030.

Recyclable packaging at Aldi

Discount retailer Aldi also launched its own trial of the fully recyclable packaging across two of its sandwich lines from September.

If the initiative is introduced across all Aldi sandwiches, this would remove 23.8m pieces of unrecyclable plastic and 29.8 tonnes of single-use plastic each year.

Richard Gorman, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK, said: Food to go is one of our most popular categories and we are confident this initiative will be well received by our customers.”  

Aldi has been working closely with its suppliers in recent months to develop ways to reduce avoidable plastics. This included committing to the removal of single-use plastic from all its own-brand tea bags by the end of 2021, as well as removing the outer plastic packaging of its own-brand tea products.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola GB's roll out of fully recycled rPET across on-the-go bottles, a water bottle that reminds consumers to keep drinking and Graphic Packaging's new dual-ovenable tray all feature among the latest packaging trends.

Related topics Chilled foods Packaging & Labelling

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