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M&S trials plastic-free produce

90 lines of loose fruit and veg have been launched in a 30-day trial at the M&S Tolworth store
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
M&S trials plastic-free produce

Marks & Spencer has launched over 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging in a trial at its Tolworth store.

To support the trial, M&S has introduced trained greengrocers, who will be on hand to offer customers valuable advice as they select from two aisles of fruit and vegetables free of plastic packaging.

The range includes hard fruit and veg like potatoes and bananas, as well as 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 best 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.

Nationwide changes at M&S

Alongside the initiatives at Tolworth, M&S has committed to launching 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.

The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.

Louise Nicholls, Head of Food Sustainability, said: ‘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.’

Louise added that the trial at M&S Tolworth is ‘an important milestone’ in the plastic reduction journey. She said bringing back the traditional greengrocer ‘will play a key part’ in educating M&S customers. The plan is to use insights and customer feedback from the three-month Tolworth store trial to create an effective approach across all M&S stores.

’A great place to start’

The initiative supports M&S’s target of becoming a zero-waste business by 2025. 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 plastics plan, which aims to remove 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by Spring 2019.

All of M&S’s packaging will be ‘widely recycled’ by 2022 in a bid to help customers to recycle more.

‘Finally the pioneers behind ‘Plan A’ are stepping up. We were getting worried that Marks and Spencer were getting left behind. We have been inundated with Marks & Spencer customers frustrated that they could not buy plastic free so this is great news that plastic free choice is coming their way. Well done Marks & Spencer. Keep going!’

A Plastic Planet co-founder

Elena Polisano, ocean plastics campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said that cutting the amount of plastic produced is ‘the best thing’ supermarkets can do to help stem the plastics tide.

‘Eliminating unnecessary plastics, such as those used for fruit and vegetables, is a great place to start’, she said. ‘M&S were ranked fourth out of the 10 biggest supermarkets when Greenpeace assessed their plans to tackle plastic waste, so it’s encouraging that M&S is now being more ambitious when it comes to reducing its plastic footprint.’

Click here to see how Greenpeace ranked supermarkets for plastic

Elena added that M&S ‘must now go further’ and introduce plastic-free fruit and vegetable lines in all stores nationwide. ‘We urge other supermarkets to follow suit’, she said.

Click here to find out how WWF and Tesco are trying to cut the carbon footprint of the average supermarket basket.

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