Plastic-free aisle to appear at London international packaging conference

A plastic-free aisle has been recreated at the Packaging Innovations 2018 conference in London (12-13 September) in a bid to encourage further reductions in plastic packaging in retail.

The aisle is the brainchild of environmental campaign group A Plastic Planet and has gained significant support across the world, with the UK Government backing the initiative in its 25 Year Environment Plan, launched at the start of the year.

As delegates descend on Packaging Innovations 2018 to discuss the future of packaging, they will be able to peruse the aisle displaying a number of everyday items that can be packaged without plastic. Products on show include tea, coffee, chocolate, dairy, bread and fresh meat wrapped in innovative materials such as wood, cellulose, plant pulp and compostable bio-materials, as well as in traditional materials such as glass, metal and cartonboard.

Plastic-free aisle to appear at London international packaging conference
The plastic-free aisle will promote alternatives to plastic packaging to conference delegates.

The aisle replicates the world’s first plastic-free aisle, which A Plastic Planet set up in February this year in an Amsterdam branch of the Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza featuring 700 plastic-free products. The aisle has since grown to almost 2,000 products and been rolled out in all 74 Ekoplaza stores.

All items display A Plastic Planet’s Plastic Free Consumer Trust Mark, a front-of-pack symbol that instantly informs customers at the point of purchase that packaging is plastic-free. The mark was adopted by UK retailer Iceland back in May to help inform consumers of the plastic contents of packaging.

Backing for plastic-free aisles has been growing in recent times, with a mobile version of the aisle being launched in June, set to tour Europe promoting a plastic-free way of life, while a new store funded by Zero Waste Scotland has opened in Glasgow offering an extensive range of plastic-free products.

Commenting on the announcement, Sian Sutherland, A Plastic Planet co-founder, said: “So much of the debate on plastic pollution scandalously blames the consumer for buying food and drink products laden in plastic. 

“The reality is that shoppers buy what they are sold. Despite the fact the public have been highly vocal about wanting to change, they are still given little choice. Almost all retailers continue to use indestructible plastic packaging; useful for days, lasting for centuries. A plastic-free aisle changes all that.

“Showcasing the aisle here in London is another step in proving to major brands that plastic-free packaging is possible and it is time they showed leadership in being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

“40 percent of all plastic is used just for packaging. Reducing this will have a massively positive impact on our oceans, our soil and on the health of future generations. We implore industry to wake up; acknowledge that recycling isn’t the answer and start to turn off the plastic tap.”

Frederikke Magnussen, A Plastic Planet co-founder, added: “Plastic-free aisles are all about igniting and inspiring the world to turn off the plastic tap once and for all. So far shoppers have been granted little choice by retailers punch drunk on the empty highs of throwaway packaging. Together we can realise a positive, plastic-free vision of the future for the benefit of generations to come.”

You can find out more about plastic-free aisles and work carried out by A Plastic Planet on the organisation’s website.

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