London supermarket introduces Plastic Free Zones

Supermarket creates a plastic-free aisle where more than 1,700 products—including meat, cheese, and fresh fruits and vegetables—are packaged in materials other than plastic.

The Plastic Free Zone includes more than 1,700 products packaged in materials other than plastic.
The Plastic Free Zone includes more than 1,700 products packaged in materials other than plastic.

In early November, an independent London supermarket became one of the first in the world to introduce dedicated Plastic Free Zones. In February 2018, Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza opened its first store with a plastic-free aisle containing more than 700 grocery items. The idea came to Ekoplaza from the environmental group A Plastic Planet.

In the U.K., in just 10 weeks, the Thornton’s Budgens store in Camden’s Belsize Park assembled an offering of more than 1,700 plastic-free products, with items such as wild game meat, including squirrel and wild boar, fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, meat and fish, and a range of other packaged food and beverage products. The zones showcase a range of plastic-free materials, including beechwood nets, pulp, paper, metal, glass, cellulose, and cartonboard. For example, squirrel meat is packaged in a meat tray and film wrapping made from bioplastic materials certified as compostable in line with EN-13432 standards.

Signage and shelf talkers tell shoppers about the packaging to help them make plastic-free choices. The zones feature iconic plastic-free branding created by London design studio Made Thought.

A Plastic Planet has called for an urgent transformation of the U.K.’s approach to waste management, urging the government to use the new plastics tax to fund a national infrastructure that mandates both recycling and composting.

Andrew Thornton, Thornton’s Budgens Founder, says, “As the community supermarket that really cares we believe in taking a strong stance on major issues that affect our wellbeing and our planet.

“The issue of plastic is one that can no longer be ignored so we’ve chosen to be the first mainstream supermarket in the U.K. to introduce Plastic Free Zones. This means our customers will be able to do a comprehensive shop without the need to use any plastic packaging.

“Plastic Free Squirrels are one of 1,500 plastic-free products that our customers can now buy. Our aim is to show the big supermarkets that it is not as difficult to go plastic-free as they think. If we with our limited resources in 10 weeks can introduce more than a thousand plastic-free products just imagine what the major chains could achieve.”