Yesterday, M&S has become the first major retailer to introduce a reusable container incentive for fresh food-to-go at its Market Place counters, as part of its plan to reduce single-use packaging.
The new scheme will incentivise customers to bring their own reusable containers to M&S’ Market Place by offering a 25p discount off each meal. M&S is aiming to encourage a change in consumer behaviour and reduce the use of disposable items on the high street, as new research by IGD reveals the food-to-go sector is set to grow by 26.4% by 2024.
M&S’ Market Place concept is available in busy city centre stores and offers a variety of hot and cold lunch-to-go options, from rotisserie chicken and fish to freshly prepared salads. Over 70,000 people pick up lunch from Market Place each week, which is currently available in 23 stores including London Pantheon on Oxford Street, Newcastle, Norwich and Manchester.
Paul Willgoss, Director of Food Technology at M&S, said: “Our priority is to reduce single-use packaging and ensure any we do use can be reused or recycled, as we work towards our 2022 target for all our packaging to be widely recyclable. Food-to-go is a growing market; so finding solutions in this space is an important part of our wider plan. Our Market Place containers are already widely recyclable, but we want to go a step further with the introduction of an incentive to encourage customers to switch to reusable containers.”
M&S already offers a 25p incentive for hot drinks served in reusable coffee cups – an initiative that was introduced in April 2018. To support customers to reuse, M&S is selling a range of clip storage containers from £4, which are available at the Market Place counters.
Trewin Restorick, CEO and Founder of environmental charity Hubbub, commented: “People are rightly concerned about the environmental impact of single-use packaging. It is massively encouraging to see M&S become the first major retailer to offer customers a financial saving encouraging them to make an important change to their shopping habits. We hope customers will respond positively and other retailers will follow this lead.”
The existing single-use containers used at Market Place are widely recyclable and are primarily made from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard with a plastic lid.
As part of its plastic reduction plan, M&S has already removed 1,000 tonnes of plastic packaging from across its business and is working to ensure all its packaging is widely recyclable by 2022. This week M&S has launched a new, widely recyclable terracotta CPET tray to replace black plastic, starting in its Italian ready meals range. The retailer has pledged to completely remove all black plastic from its Food business by the end of 2020.
M&S continues to look at innovative solutions to replace plastic packaging and is partnering with the wider industry and organisations on initiatives such as Hubbub’s #LeedsByExample, which encourages consumers to recycle food-to-go packaging.