Iceland launches first UK plastic bag-free store

Deborah Williams 26 July 2019 (Last Updated July 26th, 2019 11:46)

UK supermarket chain Iceland has announced it will trial the complete removal of plastic bags from its Hackney, London store.

Iceland launches first UK plastic bag-free store
Iceland launches first UK plastic bag-free store. Credit: Iceland

UK supermarket chain Iceland has announced it will trial the complete removal of plastic bags from its Hackney, London store.

Instead of plastic bags, customers will be offered 15p extra-strong paper bags, which can hold up to 16kg. The retailer said that this is the equivalent of 70 packs of its 226g No Bull Burgers.

Other plastic-free bag alternatives on offer include 10p lightweight paper carrier bags, £1 jute bags, £1 Disney branded cotton bags and small paper bags for meat products.

Iceland has also announced it will also trial the 15p paper bags alongside 15p plastic bags for life in 25 stores across North Wales, Wirral and Cheshire. This trial will be introduced to a further 15 stores in Manchester from 10August this year. The supermarket chain said the trial will be used to observe consumer preference in a setting where the two options are offered side by side.

Operating for six months, the trials are anticipated to collectively save over 210,000 plastic bags.

Iceland managing director Richard Walker said: “We know that many customers are using ‘bags for life’ only once and the retail industry needs to work together to challenge this behaviour and find alternative solutions. Over 1.2 billion plastic bags for life were sold last year in the UK and this needs to change drastically.

“These trials will help us to understand how our customers feel about removing one of the most common objects associated with plastic, the supermarket carrier bag, and how they respond to various alternatives. We’re looking forward to seeing how customers respond and using the results of the trials in our wider plans to reduce our plastic footprint.”

The trials form a part of Iceland’s on-going efforts in replacing single-use plastic. Last year, the retailer removed single-use plastic carrier bags from all its stores and said it is working to explore non-plastic alternatives that meet the needs of customers and will support challenging consumer behaviour.

It also launched the UK’s first in-store reverse vending machines and trialled an in-store plastic-free greengrocer aisle this year.

Iceland aims to remove all plastic from its own-label packaging by the end of 2023.

The retailer said that since making its plastic-free commitment in January last year, it has reduced or removed plastic packaging across 81 lines and removed over 1,500 tonnes of plastic from its packaging.