Iceland vows to go plastic-free on its own branded packaging within five years

Iceland will commit to end plastic packaging for all its own branded products within five years, the retailer has said.

Plastic will be replaced with packaging including paper and pulp trays and paper bags, which would be recyclable through domestic waste collections or in-store recycling facilities.

Iceland said it was the first major retailer globally to go "plastic-free" on its own label products.

The company has already removed plastic disposable straws. New food ranges set to hit the shelves in early 2018 will use paper-based rather than plastic food trays.

Environmental campaigners welcomed the move, which comes amid growing concern over plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

Theresa May pledged last week to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years, and called for supermarkets to introduce "plastic-free" aisles.

"The world has woken up to the scourge of plastics," Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said.

"A truckload is entering our oceans every minute causing untold damage to our marine environment and ultimately humanity - since we all depend on the oceans for our survival.

"The onus is on retailers, as leading contributors to plastic packaging pollution and waste, to take a stand and deliver meaningful change."

He also said Iceland would ensure all packaging was fully recyclable and would be recycled, through support for initiatives such as a bottle deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, said: "Last month a long list of former heads of Britain's biggest retail groups wrote a joint statement to explain that the only solution to plastic pollution was for retailers to reject plastic entirely in favour of more sustainable alternatives like recycled paper, steel, glass and aluminium.

"Now Iceland has taken up that challenge with its bold pledge to go plastic free within five years.

"It's now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge."