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British retailers deal with excess plastic packaging due to Covid-19

One result of the Covid pandemic was mismanagement of food plastic packaging, as manufacturers relied excessively on single use plastics in order to mitigate the potential risk of disease. In the UK, this led the government to suspend its 5p charge on disposable plastic bags for home delivery in March 2020.

Retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Asda rolled out plastic egg cartons during the same time period as stock couldn’t keep up with the demand for egg boxes made from carton. Also, loose vegetables and fruit were purchased less as well on account of the potential contamination risk.

Generally, however, retailers are still keen to meet sustainable goals when designing and implementing flexible packaging. Retail chain Waitrose intends to reduce the amount of single use plastic contained within its own packaging by twenty percent by the end of 2021 while aiming for a reduction of fifty percent by 2025.

Solutions to the plastic packaging crisis are not always this handy. Frozen food giant Iceland struggled with developing packaging solutions, with ‘nine out of ten trials ending in failure’ as Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland Food, terms it. reports how Sainsbury has pledged to reduce the 120,000 tons of plastic it uses each year to half that number by 2025. The retail chain has also begun to pick up the slack of local city councils by inviting customers to return their polyethylene and polypropylene flexible film for recycling, commonly used for salad bags, frozen food, biscuits and cake wrappers, as these are often ineligible for recycling at council recycling centres.


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