UK grocery chain Waitrose & Partners recently announced it will launch “the world’s first home compostable ready meal packaging” this month in its stores. According to a press release, the new, fiber-based containers will replace the hard-to-recycle black plastic trays typically used for Waitrose-brand ready-made meals you throw in the microwave and serve.

From the press release:
Waitrose & Partners has worked with its suppliers, Huhtamaki and Saladworks, to use the latest technology to make sure the trays can be heated in the oven and microwave, and is cool to touch after cooking. The fibre based packaging is Forest Stewardship Council certified, creates a 50% saving in Co2 emissions, and can also be recycled.  

The new fiber-based containers will hit stores on May 29 with all Waitrose & Partners Italian ready meal products. The grocer’s goal is to remove the tough-to-recycle black plastic trays from all in-house packaging by the end of 2019.

The efforts seem right in step with the EU’s plans to ban single-use plastics by 2021(Brexit may or may not affect the ban’s status in the U.K.), and more generally with efforts around the globe to cut down on our staggering amount of plastic waste. Some estimates say if we continue generating plastic waste at our current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Earlier this year, Waitrose & Partner’s removed black plastic trays from all packaging for fresh meat, fish, poultry, and produce items. Meanwhile, ditching all plastic trays is the latest in a long line of moves Waitrose & Partners has outlined to make the company a more sustainable grocery chain overall. The company says that 70 percent of its house-brand packaging is currently recyclable, and 100 percent of it will be by 2023. Additionally, the company plans to test refillable containers in stores, get rid of single-use plastic bags (currently, customers can pay £.05 per bag), and replace baggies for loose produce with home-compostable alternatives.

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Jenn is a writer and editor for The Spoon who covers restaurant tech and food delivery, developments in agriculture and indoor farming, and startup accelerators and incubators. On the side, she moonlights as a ghostwriter for tech industry executives and spends a lot of time on the road exploring food developments in more remote parts of the country. Previously, she was managing editor of Gigaom’s market research department and was once a competitive pinball player. Jenn splits her time between NYC and Nashville, TN.

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