Meat substitute and sustainable protein brand Quorn has announced a move to eliminate 297 tonnes of non-recyclable black plastic packaging from its supply chain by the end of June 2018.

Following a move by Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to publicise the difficulty of recycling black plastic, Quorn’s packaging strategy group met to formulate a plan to remove black plastic from the company’s supply chain as quickly as possible.

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Black plastic trays cannot be picked up by laser sorting devices on conveyor belts in rubbish collection and recycling centres, therefore are not recovered for recycling and instead end up in landfills.

Since April this year, black plastic has been phased out of the majority of Quorn packaging, including some of its bestselling products, such as chilled Quorn mince and pieces.

This month, in-store packaging of most of the chilled range will be switched to white and opaque recyclable plastics, which can be picked up and recycled in UK centres, to support the WRAP initiative.

The brand, which is exported globally to 20 different markets, plans to also eliminate plastic from its ‘Deli’ range, which accounts for 10% of its chilled products, by the end of 2018. The company is currently in late-stage discussions and testing with suppliers to ensure this process goes smoothly.

The brand aims to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025.

Quorn Foods CEO Kevin Brennan said: “As a founding signatory of WRAP’s UK Plastic Pact, we are very excited to announce this positive change towards increased sustainability of our products. Moving so quickly to remove black plastic is a significant challenge, but one that, as a sustainable company, we view as being of the utmost importance.

“We view this as the right thing to do, despite the six-figure cost. Our customers will be able to continue enjoying Quorn as part of a balanced and healthy diet, knowing that we are committed to reducing all forms of food waste in our supply chain and to promoting and advancing sustainability without passing the cost onto consumers”.

Quorn is the first global meat alternative brand to be awarded the Carbon Trust’s Carbon Footprint. The initiative to eliminate plastic may improve the brand’s sustainable credentials further.

Earlier this year, WRAP announced a UK Plastic Pact, which was signed by stores and brands committed to removing all single-use plastic packaging by 2025. As a result, many brands came up with strategies to tackle the plastic problem.

Waitrose has recently committed to eliminating unrecyclable plastic by switching the black plastic lids on drinks bottles to clear plastic to boost the number that is recycled. It is also ending the use of black plastic trays used for fruit, vegetables, meat and fish by the end of the year.

Iceland has pledged to remove plastic trays completely as a part of a wider commitment to stop using any plastic packaging in its own label range by 2023.