Premium fresh produce supplier and retailer Natoora has launched new recyclable and compostable packaging that it says will dramatically reduce its plastic waste through Ocado.
The new plastic-free packaging consists of a fully recyclable punnet, flow-wrapped with home-compostable film developed by the Israeli start-up Tipa.
Unlike traditional plastic flow wrap, the Tipa film disintegrates within 180 days and can be thrown in a home compost bin.
Natoora said the packaging will result in the removal of 2.2 million plastic punnets a year through Ocado alone, whose plastic-free range has until now featured less than five per cent fresh produce.
With 40,000 consumers ordering Natoora products through Ocado each week, the supplier claimed a change of this scale has “never been seen” in online UK fruit and vegetable retail.
As well as Ocado, the plastic-free punnets have been launched at select Waitrose and Whole Foods stores in the UK. It will also be available from Whole Foods USA from early 2020.
“While bricks-and-mortar supermarket initiatives are gathering attention, nobody else is tackling plastic in fresh produce online, in spite of the fact that this is how more and more people are choosing to shop,” said a spokesperson from Natoora.
“While plastic-free aisles are a step in the right direction, their scope is limited to the local areas within which they operate and ultimately their implementation is at odds with shifting consumer habits.”
Indeed, online grocery is forecast to account for 10 per cent of all grocery shopping in the UK by 2023, with sales growing by 60 per cent to reach £19.8 billion.
At its own physical stores in London, Natoora sells produce loose, while encouraging consumers to eat “radically seasonal” produce and demand “complete transparency” on how their food is produced.
“We wanted to reduce our environmental impact in a meaningful way, and this meant changing the way consumers would receive fresh produce ordered online or bought through our partners in pre-packs,” said Natoora’s founder and CEO Franco Fubini.
“It was important for us to work within the existing frameworks established by Ocado, Waitrose and Whole Foods and reduce our footprint in a way that reflects how people are increasingly shopping for fresh produce.
“It would be naive to try to blow the entire system apart when you can have a much wider impact by working alongside existing infrastructure.”
Natoora defended its decision to use sustainable packaging instead of selling produce loose online, saying the only produce that can truly survive the supply chain packaging-free are selected storage crops such as tough-skinned squashes, onions and potatoes.
“The reality of moving incredibly ripe, seasonal produce through larger retail partners makes packaging essential for protection, which in turn reduces food waste,” Natoora said.