Sandwich packaging (1)

Source: Aldi

Research shows customers struggle to separate the outer packaging from the plastic film in traditional sandwich skillets

Sainsbury’s, Aldi and the Co-op are set to start trialling fully recyclable sandwich packaging in partnership with supplier Greencore.

The all-fibre, plastic-free recyclable skillet, which will be 100% paper-based and feature a plastic-free window, will hit shelves across the UK from September. The new packaging is said to have no impact on shelf life.

The move follows 18 months of research and development in collaboration with flexible packaging manufacturer ProAmpac. If the trials proves successful, the new packaging will begin rolling out in stores nationwide later in the year.

The retailers joined forces with Greencore after research showed customers struggled to separate the outer packaging from the plastic film in traditional sandwich skillets.

About 600 million pre-packed sandwiches are consumed every year in the UK, according to Greencore.

“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,” said Greencore head of sustainability Andy Wright. “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.”

Aldi said that, if the initiative was introduced across all its own-label sandwiches, it could result in the removal of 23.8 million pieces of unrecyclable plastic and 29.8 tonnes of single-use plastic every year.

“We are looking at every product we sell to see if there are ways we can remove plastic packaging or replace it with recyclable alternatives. Food to go is one of our most popular categories and we are confident this initiative will be well received by our customers,” said Aldi UK plastics and packaging director Richard Gorman.

The Co-op has been following the development of Greencore’s compostable skillet since its early stages. The convenience retailer, which has worked to ensure all of its own-brand packaging is now fully recyclable, first trialled the alternative packaging at a pop-up store in Glastonbury Festival in 2019.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the new packaging on shelves this autumn and are confident it will resonate with our members and customers,” said Co-op’s director of delicious food Breige Donaghy.

Sainsbury’s plans to halve plastic packaging by 2025. The company also recently extended its in-store flexible plastic recycling system to 520 branches across the country to make recycling easier for customers.

“Our customers want tasty, great quality food they can enjoy on the go, which is also better for the planet,” said Sainsbury’s director of product, packaging and innovation Claire Hughes.

“We are pleased to be trialling this innovative new sandwich packaging with Greencore and helping our customers reduce plastic when they shop with us.”