British supermarket chain Waitrose and Partners is trialling three of its Italian ready meals in fibre-based packaging, developed as an alternative to black plastic.

The decision by the supermarket chain is part of its efforts to remove own-label black plastic packaging by the end of next year.

Initially launched in June under a pilot programme, the retailer will offer Italian ready meals such as Macaroni Cheese, Spaghetti Bolognese, and Tuna Pasta Bake in the fibre-based trays across the majority of its stores.

Waitrose packaging manager Karen Graley said: “Black plastic continues to be a challenge to recycle. This is why we see innovating alternative materials as so important.

“If our trial is a success, we’ll be looking to roll it out further and this could potentially save millions of plastic trays going to landfill every year.

“Customer feedback from the June trial has been really positive with shoppers asking where the fibre-based trays went after the trial ended.

“If our trial is a success, we’ll be looking to roll it out further and this could potentially save millions of plastic trays going to landfill every year.”

“Ready meals have historically used a great deal of black plastic but hopefully this will be the beginning of the end for this hard to recycle form of packaging.’’

The company has worked in collaboration with its packaging supplier, Huhtamaki, to ensure that the trays can be heated in the oven and microwave.

According to Waitrose, the fibre-based trays are available in a cream colour and are Forest Stewardship Council-certified.

Waitrose aims to make all of its own-label packaging widely recyclable, reusable, or home-compostable by 2025.