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The environmental campaign group Greenpeace has welcomed Iceland’s announcement: “Last month a long list of former heads of Britain’s biggest retail groups wrote a joint statement to explain that the only solution to plastic pollution was for retailers to reject plastic entirely in favour of more sustainable alternatives like recycled paper, steel, glass and aluminium,” said John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director. “Now Iceland has taken up that challenge with its bold pledge to go plastic free within five years. It’s now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge. The tidal wave of plastic pollution will only start to recede when they turn off the tap.”

Meanwhile, the British Plastics Federation has expressed surprise at the move. “Plastic packaging is used because it vastly reduces food waste and is resource efficient,” its statement read. “If Iceland implements these measures, there is a risk that the weight of the packaging, carbon emissions, food waste and the amount of energy to make that packaging will increase. Growing and transporting food consumes a lot more energy than that used to make the packaging protecting it. Iceland’s proposals target products that will have absolutely no impact on reducing marine litter, which in the UK typically comes from items littered outside our homes. Its environmental footprint will increase, not decrease.”

However, Iceland insists it is right to focus on waste.

“I think it’s great that packaging is at the forefront of the agenda today,” Mr Schofield concluded. “With the equivalent of a truckload of plastic waste entering our marine environment every minute, everyone has an urgent part to play in reversing this trend.”