Greencore Group, a manufacturer of convenience foods, has announced that, in partnership with the Co-op and Sainsbury’s, it will soon commence trials for a 100% fibre-based, plastic-free recyclable sandwich skillet in stores across the UK.

The packaging, developed in conjunction with ProAmpac and believed by the companies to be the first of its kind 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 level of moisture resistance the skillet provides, Greencore says that the solution will see products have the “exact same shelf life” as if they were packaged in a traditional skillet.

According to the companies, 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 aren’t as high as they could be.

The new skillet’s all-paper construction seeks to make this process easier for consumers. Subject to successful trials, which commence in September 2021, and the proposition meeting all parties’ performance criteria, the roll-out of the new packaging is scheduled to begin later in the year. In time, Greencore expects to make these new packaging techniques available to the wider UK market.

Andy Wright, head of sustainability at Greencore, comments: “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.”

Graham Williams, global managing director of fresh food packaging at ProAmpac, adds: “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.”