Greencore Group plc, a leading UK manufacturer of convenience foods, has confirmed that, in partnership with the Co-op and Sainsbury’s, it will soon commence ‘test and learn’ trials of an all fibre, plastic-free recyclable sandwich skillet in stores across the UK.
The packaging, developed in conjunction with ProAmpac and believed to be the first of its type in the world, marks the culmination of 18 months of R&D by Greencore. The skillet will have a plastic-free window and be made entirely from paper-based material; crucially, due to the precise level of moisture resistance the skillet provides, it will see products have the exact same shelf life as if they were they packaged in a traditional skillet.
Data shows that consumers currently find it challenging to separate the plastic film from the packaging of a typical sandwich skillet, meaning that recycling rates are nowhere near as high as they could be. The new skillet’s all-paper construction will make the process much easier for consumers. Subject to successful trials, which commence in September 2021 and the proposition meeting all parties’ performance criteria, roll-out of the new packaging will begin later in the year. In time, Greencore expects to make these new packaging techniques available to the wider UK market.
It is estimated that some 600 million pre-packed sandwiches are consumed in the UK every year, or just over 1,100 every minute. Should the fully-recyclable skillet ultimately be adopted as industry best practice, the potential for significant reductions in plastic usage and in improved recycling rates is immense.
Andy Wright, Head of Sustainability at Greencore, commented, “Consumers are increasingly aware not just of the importance of their own health but also of the impact their food has on the health of the planet. Developing a fully recyclable sandwich skillet is one of the key ways we can reduce waste and help our customers do their bit to protect the environment. This is not a problem we can solve alone, though. The complexities of the challenges we face require collective action, inside and outside our industry and Greencore is pleased to have such supportive customers who share our enthusiasm for making great food for all, that’s accessible, healthy and sustainable.”
Breige Donaghy, Director of Delicious Food, Co-op, said, “We’ve worked closely with Greencore from the start on the development of the compostable sandwich packaging and implemented the first trial of its use in our pop-up store at Glastonbury Festival in 2019 with great success. The trial aligns with Co-op’s ambition to reduce the use of virgin plastic and how we’ve also worked to ensure that all of our own-brand packaging is now fully recyclable. We’re looking forward to seeing the new packaging on shelves this autumn and are confident it will resonate with our members and customers.”
Claire Hughes, Director of Product,Packaging and Innovation at Sainsbury’s, added, “Our customers want tasty, great quality food that they can enjoy on the go, which is also better for the planet. We are committed to making recycling easier for our customers while reducing our use of plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 and working collaboratively with our suppliers is key to achieving our targets and driving change. We are pleased to be trialling this innovative new sandwich packaging and helping our customers reduce plastic when they shop with us.”
Graham Williams, Global Managing Director of Fresh Food Packaging at ProAmpac commented, “Introducing this fibre-based sandwich pack, which is plastic free with an extended shelf life is a direct result of ProAmpac’s product development expertise along with Greencore’s commitment to sustainable packaging. Partnering with an industry leading company like Greencore is critical in bringing to market the latest in sustainable food packaging innovations.”