From sea to tray: Tesco nets discarded plastic from coastal areas for fresh fish packaging
26 Jan 2023 --- Tesco’s fresh salmon, haddock, cod and sea bass lines will be sold for the first time in trays that contain at least 30% recycled coastal plastic collected from beaches, coastlines and coastal communities around the Mediterranean Sea.
The move, in partnership with the non-profit organization Keep Sea Blue, will potentially prevent around 500 metric tons of plastic waste from entering the oceans and reduce the amount of “virgin plastic” required in the packaging, the UK retailer shares.
“Where we can, we are reducing the amount of new plastic we use in our business. Reusing coastal plastic in our fish packaging is one way we can do that and at the same time keep it out of the oceans,” says Sarah Bradbury, quality director at Tesco.
The plastic waste consisting of PP, PET, PE, and other types of plastic, is collected from at-risk coastal areas such as beaches and coastal communities within 10 km of the sea.
Collection and processing are undertaken with transparency and traceability and certified by Keep Sea Blue, which works with and connects organizations across the supply chain from collection to reuse in new packaging.
Lefteris Bastakis, founder of Keep Sea Blue, states: “Mismanaged plastic waste can only be solved by many partners working together. We are glad that Tesco is making a meaningful and active contribution to this program toward protecting the Mediterranean Sea from plastic pollution and building a more sustainable future.”
Rerouting plastic waste
The plastic is recovered initially by a network of collectors across the Mediterranean, including volunteer groups involved in beach clean-ups, local authorities, non-profits and the private sector.
The PET share of the waste is then carefully sorted, ground, washed and recycled, and returned to food-grade packaging materials.
Through its customized blockchain platform powered by Oracle Blockchain technology, Keep Sea Blue monitors and certifies the circularity of plastics, ensuring material traceability.
“Through the blockchain-enabled platform, certified partners register information and trace plastic to its point of origin, down to the specific coastal area where it was collected,” the organization details.
Keep Sea Blue reportedly collects, recycles and reuses over 2,000 metric tons of plastic waste from at-risk Mediterranean areas, keeping it in the packaging loop and away from the ocean.
The British government has confirmed plans to enforce a ban on single-use plastics in England, in line with Scotland and Wales. Items such as disposable plastic cutlery, trays and plates will be outlawed for foodservice uses, but yet to be in supermarkets and other settings, which the government says it will address through other means.
UK-based supermarkets have recently adopted policies to reduce their climate impact.
Starting in March, Sainsbury’s will no longer sell its guacamole, tzatziki, sour cream and chive dip with single-use plastic lids. The company predicts that the removal of single-use plastic caps will save 71 million pieces of plastic each year, equating to 220 metric tons of plastic.
Waitrose shelved its small wine bottles for aluminum cans as part of plans to reduce its carbon footprint. Marks and Spencer’s Verday range of sliced plant-based food and vegetarian burgers from Noel Alimentaria recently switched to Mondi’s PerFORMing paper-based tray.
Moreover, last August, Tesco stepped up its campaign against “unnecessary plastic” by removing the multipack wrap from many of its own brand food and drinks. The retailer reported that 12 million pieces of plastic a year will be saved from use on all own-brand canned fizzy drinks.
With the Keep Sea Blue partnership, the supermarket is repurposing plastic waste, such as drink bottles from the Mediterranean Sea.
By Radhika Sikaria
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, PackagingInsights.
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