Fully-Recyclable Sandwich Packaging to be Trialed in UK Supermarkets

Greencore Group plc (‘Greencore’ or the ‘Group’), a leading UK manufacturer of convenience foods, is delighted to announce that, in partnership with the Co-op and Sainsbury’s, it will soon commence ‘test and learn’ trials of an all fibre plastic free recyclable sandwich skillet in stores across the UK.

The packaging, developed in conjunction with ProAmpac and believed to be the first of its type in the world, marks the culmination of 18 months of research and development by Greencore. The skillet will have a plastic-free window and be made entirely from paper-based material; crucially, due to the precise level of moisture resistance the skillet provides, it will see products have the exact same shelf life as if they were they packaged in a traditional skillet.

Data shows that consumers currently find it challenging to separate the plastic film from the packaging of a typical sandwich skillet, meaning that recycling rates are nowhere near as high as they could be. The new skillet’s all-paper construction will make the process much easier for consumers. Subject to successful trials, which commence in September 2021, and the proposition meeting all parties’ performance criteria, roll-out of the new packaging will begin later in the year. In time, Greencore expects to make these new packaging techniques available to the wider UK market.

Development of the fully-recyclable skillet sees Greencore deliver on one of the key commitments outlined in its 2020 Sustainability Report. The Sustainability Report also contains a range of pledges across the areas of sourcing, manufacturing, and community engagement. Further commitments include:

  • All surplus product will be donated to local communities by 2022
  • A deforestation-free supply chain by 2025
  • All raw materials will be sustainably sourced by 2030
  • Product development will be equally split between animal protein versus plant-rich alternatives by 2030.

It is estimated that some 600 million pre-packed sandwiches are consumed in the UK every year, or just over 1,100 every minute. Should the fully-recyclable skillet ultimately be adopted as industry best practice, the potential for significant reductions in plastic usage and in improved recycling rates is immense.

Andy Wright, Head of Sustainability at Greencore, commented:

“Consumers are increasingly aware not just of the importance of their own health but also of the impact their food has on the health of the planet. Developing a fully recyclable sandwich skillet is one of the key ways we can reduce waste and help our customers do their bit to protect the environment.

“This is not a problem we can solve alone, though. The complexities of the challenges we face require collective action, inside and outside our industry, and Greencore is pleased to have such supportive customers who share our enthusiasm for making great food for all, that’s accessible, healthy and sustainable.”

Breige Donaghy, Director of Delicious Food, Co-op, said:  

“We’ve worked closely with Greencore from the start on the development of the compostable sandwich packaging and implemented the first trial of its use in our pop-up store at Glastonbury Festival in 2019 with great success.

“The trial aligns with Co-op’s ambition to reduce the use of virgin plastic and how we’ve also worked to ensure that all of our own-brand packaging is now fully recyclable. We’re looking forward to seeing the new packaging on shelves this autumn and are confident it will resonate with our members and customers.”

Claire Hughes, Director of Product,Packaging and Innovation at Sainsbury’s, commented: “Our customers want tasty, great quality food that they can enjoy on the go, which is also better for the planet. We are committed to making recycling easier for our customers while reducing our use of plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 and working collaboratively with our suppliers is key to achieving our targets and driving change. We are pleased to be trialling this innovative new sandwich packaging with Greencore and helping our customers reduce plastic when they shop with us”

Graham Williams, Global Managing Director of Fresh Food Packaging at ProAmpac commented:

Introducing this fibre-based sandwich pack, which is plastic free with an extended shelf life is a direct result of ProAmpac’s product development expertise along with Greencore’s commitment to sustainable packaging. Partnering with an industry leading company like Greencore is critical in bringing to market the latest in sustainable food packaging innovations.”

About Greencore

We are a leading manufacturer of convenience food in the UK and our purpose is to make every day taste better.

We supply all of the major supermarkets in the UK. We also supply convenience and travel retail outlets, discounters, coffee shops, foodservice and other retailers. We have strong market positions in a range of categories including sandwiches, salads, sushi, chilled snacking, chilled ready meals, chilled soups and sauces, chilled quiche, ambient sauces and pickles, and frozen Yorkshire Puddings.

We have 16 world-class manufacturing sites and 18 distribution centres in the UK, with industry-leading technology and supply chain capabilities. We generated revenues of £1.2bn in FY20 and employ approximately 12,200 people. We are headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.

For further information go to www.greencore.com or follow Greencore on social media.

About Co-op

Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.  Employing over 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £10 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.  When Co-op Members buy Co-op branded products and services, they receive a 2p for every pound spent reward, and the same amount is donated to its Local Community Fund for local causes and a new Community Partnerships Fund, intended to support communities through like-minded national charities and organisations.

About Sainsbury’s

Offering delicious, great quality food at competitive prices has been at the heart of what we do since John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury opened our first store in 1869. Today, inspiring and delighting our customers with tasty food remains our priority.

Our purpose is that driven by our passion for food, together we serve and help every customer.

Our focus on great value food and convenient shopping, whether in-store or online is supported by our brands – Argos, Habitat, Tu, Nectar and Sainsbury’s Bank. Sainsbury’s has over 600 supermarkets and over 800 convenience stores. Argos is a leading digital retailer and is the third most visited retail website in the UK, with over 90 per cent of its sales starting online. Argos is conveniently available for customers to collect from hundreds of Sainsbury’s stores. Digital and technology enables us to adapt as customers shop differently and our profitable, fast-growing online channels offer customers quick and convenient delivery and collection capability.

Our 189,000 colleagues are integral to our success, now and in the future.

About ProAmpac

ProAmpac is a leading global flexible packaging company with a comprehensive product offering, providing creative packaging solutions, industry-leading customer service and award-winning innovation to a diverse global marketplace. ProAmpac’s approach to sustainability – ProActive Sustainability® – provides innovative sustainable flexible packaging products to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. We are guided in our work by four core values that are the basis for our success: Integrity, Intensity, Innovation, and Involvement. Cincinnati-based ProAmpac is owned by Pritzker Private Capital along with management and co-investors. For more information, visit ProAmpac.com or contact Media@ProAmpac.com.