Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced a trial of over 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging as part of its plastic reduction drive.

The new lines have been introduced exclusively to Tolworth Simply Food in Surbiton, Greater London, for a three-month trial period to provide insights and customer feedback for an effective approach across all stores, while trained greengrocers will be on hand to offer customers advice on plastic reduction and food wastage.

The announcement follows a reduction of 75 million pieces of plastic cutlery given out in M&S stores each year, and the replacement of two million straws with paper alternatives as part of the retailer’s plastic reduction plan, which aims to remove 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by spring 2019.

M&S head of food sustainability, Louise Nicholls, said: “We’re proud to launch a series of market-leading initiatives to help our customers take home less plastic. We know our customers want to play their part in cutting out plastic, while as a business our goal is to become zero-waste by 2025.

“That’s why we’re working hard to reduce the amount of plastic packaging we use without compromising on food quality and contributing to waste. Our trial at Tolworth is an important milestone in our plastic reduction journey and bringing back the traditional greengrocer will play a key part in educating our customers.

“Our plan is to create long-term impact in the future using tangible insights from the Tolworth store trial.”

Alongside the initiatives at Tolworth, M&S has committed to launching additional lines of loose produce and more sustainable alternatives to plastic in every UK store, potentially saving 580 tonnes of plastic waste over two years. The plan will involve replacing plastic produce bags with paper ones and phasing out plastic barcode stickers in favour of eco-friendly alternatives.

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