Britain’s first “plastic-free” supermarket in London’s Belsize Park has began its transition, changing more than 1,700 products over to non-plastic packaging.
Thornton Budgens has promised to be “virtually plastic-free” within three years, in a “public experiment” supported by local celebrities Jim Broadbent and Janet Suzman. The move follows a Dutch supermarket opening a plastic-free aisle last February. The UK store claims it has larger ambitions, with vegetables, crisps and meat all offered in plastic-free packaging.
Just last week, chancellor Philip Hammond announced he would be introducing a tax on ‘virgin plastic’, when announcing the budget.
Andrew Thornton, store owner, said: “We’re hoping that what we’re doing here will challenge the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco and others. As soon as one of them turns round to the big producers such as Coca-Cola, Heinz or Unilever and says ‘unless you stop sending us products in plastic, we’re not going to stock them’, change will come very quickly.”
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of campaign group A Plastic Planet, which is working with the Budgens store, said that “challenger” brands who had adapted their packaging made the transition easier. Sutherland said it was “the big brands that are like snails with their pace of change”.