There is a Swedish supermarket chain called ICA. They have replaced their ICA I love eco and Fairtrade bananas plastic packaging. A label has replaced this. As a result, 25 ton less plastic is being used per year.
That is one of the ICA's steps in its new strategy to reduce the amount of plastic. The goal in 2020 is to do away with all single-use packaging. By 2022, the supermarket chain wants to have only recyclable packaging. In 2030, all packaging should be made from recycled plastic or other fossil-free raw materials.
Emelie Hansson is the Senior Sustainability Manager at ICA. She elaborates on the strategy by answering several questions.
Why do you use so much plastic in your packaging?
Plastic is a material that is well-suited to fruit and vegetables. The reason is that is can be adapted so products can breathe well. We are aware that plastic is a significant problem for the environment if it is not processed correctly. But, so is food wastage. Many studies have shown that food wastage has the most significant environmental impact. Plastics are sometimes beneficial for a product's shelf life. We, therefore, then have to make a decision. I do, however, want to point out that we use a little packaging material as possible. We mainly use plastic made from recycled raw materials. These are all important choices. We are also continually busy finding new solutions. For example, we discovered that some fruits and vegetables could be labeled using a laser. This is then done, rather than being packaged or having a label stuck on them.
Why are organic fruits and vegetables so often packaged in plastic?
When it comes to organically-grown products, we are legally obligated to label each product separately. In as many cases as possible, we have started placing stickers on fruit and vegetables. Bananas are an example of this. The use of plastic is reduced in this way. But we still have to label each individual product.
How do you consider which packaging to use?
We are always working on improving CIA's own products' packaging. For instance, the packaging must protect the products, and the design must be attractive. It must meet environmental demands too. These include ease of production, transport, and recycling. A good example is the ICA Selection broccoli. It can be found in portion packs. These can be used directly while the product is being steamed. All our packaging also displays information. This information is about how the different parts must be disposed of. If everyone were to separate their rubbish, we would be well on our way.
Why do you use plastic carrier bags?
All our plastic carrier bags are made of recycled raw materials. In this case, sugar cane. This product produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions than a plastic made from oil. The sugar cane bag can, in turn, be recycled again with the usual plastic recycling.