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Supermarkets announce packaging innovations

Two major supermarket chains have developed innovative green packaging solutions, including plastic bags recycled from back-of-store plastic waste and egg boxes made from ryegrass.

Two major supermarket chains have developed innovative green packaging solutions, including plastic bags recycled from back-of-store plastic waste and egg boxes made from ryegrass.

From October 2015, UK supermarket giant, Tesco, will start providing plastic carrier bags made from its own back-of-store plastic waste such as pallet and multi-pack wrapping.

The waste plastic material is collected and sorted by UK recycling firm, Eurokey, and then processed into plastic bags by international plastic packaging specialists, Papier Mettler. 

‘Closing the loop’

Bill Aldridge, UK sales manager at Papier Mettler, said the innovation has taken the supermarket “one step further” than simply offering carrier bags made of post-consumer recycled material. “By closing the material loop, Tesco carrier bags are now produced using their own plastic waste”, he said.

Robin Hughes, procurement manager at Tesco, said: “We are extremely proud to work with these suppliers to turn plastics from our business-generated waste into our single use carrier bags. We believe that recycling materials back into products makes sense for the industry and the environment.”

The announcement came just a week after a mandatory 5p levy on plastic carrier bags was introduced in England for large businesses.

Bio-technology

Meanwhile, another major UK supermarket, Waitrose, has launched a separate innovative packaging solution by creating egg boxes out of a revolutionary new material made from ryegrass and paper.

The fully-recyclable material, believed to be a UK-first, is made from 50 per cent ryegrass and will save 459 tonnes of wood and recycled paper each year once it is rolled out across the supermarket’s full egg range.

The new boxes also use 60 per cent less water during production and 15 per cent less CO2 compared to standard cardboard pulp egg boxes.

The ryegrass is sourced from unfertilised ‘surplus’ grass which grows quickly and is cheap to supply.

The packaging solution was developed as part of the two-year £600,000 Sustainable Ryegrass Products (STARS) research project funded by the Welsh government and led by Bangor and Aberystwyth universities.