Waitrose launches world’s first home compostable ready meal packaging as the retailer’s removal of black plastics heats up

Waitrose & Partners is launching the world’s first home compostable ready meal packaging as it moves nearly nine million products out of black plastic.

The pioneering packaging will initially replace many of the retailer’s Italian ready meal trays, saving 158 tonnes of black plastic. The new cream-coloured containers, which are fibre based and similar in texture to cardboard, are now certified home compostable for the first time.

Waitrose & Partners has worked with its suppliers, Huhtamaki and Saladworks, to use the latest technology to make sure the trays can be heated in the oven and microwave, and is cool to touch after cooking. The fibre based packaging is Forest Stewardship Council certified, creates a 50% saving in Co2 emissions, and can also be recycled.  

The packaging innovation means millions of ready meals will be taken out of hard-to-recycle black plastic as Waitrose continues its lead in removing the material on all its own brand products by the end of 2019.

This is the first phase of the retailer’s plans to replace black plastic on all its ready meals and follows the retailer’s success in removing black plastic on its fresh meat, fish, poultry, fruit and veg earlier this year.

The majority of black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon black pigments which do not enable the pack to be easily sorted by the systems widely used in plastics recycling. As a result, black plastic packaging can commonly end up as residue and disposed of in landfill.

Karen Graley, Manager, Packaging & Reprographics, Waitrose & Partners, said: “Pioneering the first home compostable ready meal packaging that ensures customers can continue to cook their food quickly, safely, and now more sustainably, is a major breakthrough in packaging innovation. This step – combined with moving millions of ready meals out of black plastic –  is a significant milestone in how we package food and eliminate hard to recycle material for good.”

Other examples of Waitrose packaging innovation include the retailer’s Duchy organic tomato packaging which is partly made from the tomato plant mixed with recycled paper.

The new Italian ready meal packaging will be available in Waitrose & Partners shops from 29 May and will now include Chilli Prawn Spaghetti, Broccoli Orechiette and Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Bake.

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