From early next month all plastic bags used by the Irish supermarket group SuperValu in its stores will be 100 per cent compostable and reusable – taking 2.5 million plastic bags out of circulation over the next year.
The move is a first for any Irish retailer, though all supermarket groups operating in the Republic have detailed plans to reduce single-plastic items.
Most have switched to using biodegrable plastic bags in their fruit and vegetable sections.
SuperValu introduced compostable fruit and vegetable bags in 2018, removing 2.7 million single-use plastic bags from stores. It plans to make 100 per cent of its own brand and fresh fruit and vegetable packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
Some 113 tonnes of plastic have been removed from fruit and veg packaging by eliminating plastic where possible, introducing compostable alternatives and reducing the weight of plastic packaging.
Its new shopping bag costs 89 cents, is 100 per cent compostable and is made from a blend of renewable raw materials. When the bag has been used as many times as possible and is ready for the bin, it can be disposed of in the brown bin. Once taken to industrial composting sites, it turns into water and CO2 within 90 days.
SuperValu said it was committed to minimising plastic by eliminating, reducing and replacing conventional plastics and is working with suppliers to consider the most sustainable options to reduce plastic; protect the safety and quality of food and to prevent food waste.
It has introduced new compostable salad bowls and claims it has the largest loose fruit and veg offering of any Irish supermarket. Further loose items will be trialled, while some stores are already selling loose coffee, spices, tea, pulses and cheeses.
SuperValu managing director Martin Kelleher said its customers expect to be helped in making more sustainable choices. "Reducing our environmental impact on the planet is a core focus of our overall strategy to help build sustainable communities and we have already made significant steps forward in this area."
Meanwhile Molson Coors has announced it is removing plastic packaging from its Carling and Coors Light brands sold in Ireland. The brewer will remove plastic film wrap from large multipacks by the end of March 2020, replacing it with "100 per cent recyclable fully enclosed carton board". By the end of March 2021, it will remove plastic rings from its cans, switching to 100 per cent recyclable cardboard sleeves.