We want to help our customers live their lives with less plastic
Plastic is a useful material which can help to extend the life of fresh products. However, if released into the environment, it can persist for hundreds of years.
We recognise the impact of plastic pollution. Customers continue to tell us it is one of the most important sustainability issues that we should be working to address. We’re tackling the plastics problem in many ways: reducing, replacing or eliminating it, encouraging reuse and recycling, and using alternative materials.
Reducing plastic in food and drink packaging
By 2025, we aim to reduce plastic packaging in all our own-brand products by 50%, and to make all the plastic packing we use for these products reusable or recyclable. We’re achieving this with a wide range of initiatives. We remove plastic where we can, for example by taking away trays from fruit and vegetables, using recyclable materials, and encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers at our butcher, fishmonger and deli counters. In 332 of our 497 stores, customers can buy a larger range of up to 75 varieties of plastic-free loose fruit and veg. Our initiatives to date have removed 11,000 tonnes of unnecessary or problem plastic since 2017.
Replacing plastic bags
Following the success of our pilot scheme replacing plastic ‘bags for life’ with a reusable paper alternative, we’re extending it to all stores in early 2022, an industry first. The new paper bags can carry up to 16kg, use paper from responsibly managed forests and are manufactured using renewable energy, which means they have a lower impact on the environment than plastic bags. Morrisons was the first supermarket to introduce paper produce bags for fruit and vegetables, an initiative that removes 176 million plastic bags each year. All our picked in-store and Click & Collect deliveries are now bagless, saving 11.6 million bags annually.
Getting rid of problem plastics
Morrisons food and drink products and own-brand products no longer use expanded polystyrene, black plastic or rigid PVC, none of which can currently be recycled and so may end up in landfill. In total, this has removed nearly 6,800 tonnes of problematic plastics. We also no longer use glitter in our own-brand and Christmas ranges, as it can be an ecological hazard when it becomes dispersed. We don’t allow plastic microbeads in any Morrisons products.
We’re exploring many different ways to encourage reuse as part of our strategy to reduce plastics. Customers can try out our glass bottle refill scheme for milk at 11 stores; can bring their own reusable containers to any of our butcher, fishmonger and deli counters; and in some stores we also offer loose dried and frozen products at 10% cheaper to customers with their own containers. All customers get a 25p discount for using their own cups in our cafés, and can refill with drinking water in all our stores and forecourts. And we’ve launched cleaning products in water-soluble pods so plastic trigger bottles can be reused again and again.
Morrisons has also committed that by 2025, it will recycle and reuse the equivalent amount of plastic it puts on to the market within its own recycling facilities, to develop greater recycling in the UK.
We became the first supermarket to own our own recycling operations through the acquisition of a significant stake in a new recycling site in Fife. The site will reprocess ‘hard-to-recycle’ soft plastics. The Fife site is the first of its type in the world. It is co-owned and being constructed by recycling plant specialists Yes Recycling. The plant will turn hard-to-recycle flexible food packaging including chocolate wrappers, crisp packets, and food film - into plastic flakes, pellets and EcoSheets. At current capacity, the site will take 15,000 of tonnes of flexible plastic packaging a year.
Recycling at Morrisons extends to the ocean, too. We sponsor the Odyssey Innovation’s Net Regeneration Scheme, which supports fishermen to recover and recycle lost nets.
So that customers know what’s recyclable, we’ve added front-of-pack recycling instructions to our top 400 lines, covering around 500 million items sold each year.
As well as replacing plastic bags with paper or bagless options, we’re using other materials to substitute for plastic in many different ways. Our own-brand toilet* and kitchen roll is now wrapped in FSC accredited paper, for example, and we only stock own brand paper-stem cotton buds and sell metal or paper drinking straws. In our Nutmeg clothing lines, we’ve committed to using more recycled polyesters and plastics, and to sourcing man-made cellulosic fibres from responsibly managed forests.
For detail on our progress in rethinking the use of plastics, visit our performance page.
For more information on how we are tackling plastics please read our Sustain Review.