M&S reports that its early-season Jersey Royal potatoes are being packaged in 100% recyclable paper in hopes of removing an estimated one million pieces of plastic from the product line in the first year.

Jersey Royals are specialty potatoes grown in glasshouses in the island country of Jersey. M&S explains that the plastic-free packaging used to sell them ‘has taken many seasons to develop’ and seeks to keep the product undamaged and fresh while unlocking end-of-life recyclability.

This ‘market first’ for M&S is set to help the retailer become the first to sell early-season Jersey Royals to its customers, with the early batch of crops traditionally being reserved for renowned chefs and luxury dining establishments. The paper-packaged potatoes will now be available in 75 M&S Foodhalls across the United Kingdom.

“There’s always a lot of excitement in the team when we start harvesting the first of the Jersey Royals, it signals that spring, and the best of our British produce season is just about to kick off!” said Harry Wilder, senior agronomist at M&S. “The care and dedication we take to ensure customers get the best of the crop is second to none, our unique chilling process and our dedicated on-site team ensure only the best picks make it to our customers baskets.

“Not only that, but the new paper packaging ensures we’re leading the way in terms of delivering sustainable packaging solutions too.”

Back in June 2021, Tesco Ireland conducted a trial with similar recyclable, paper-based packs for its 1kg new season potatoes. Removing the non-recyclable net window from the previous pack design, the single-ply paper bags were sourced from FSC-accredited materials and could be recycled through kerbside collection.

Later that year, Root Zero unveiled what claimed to be the UK’s ‘first’ carbon-neutral potatoes with paper bag packaging, utilizing water-based inks and adhesives to streamline its recyclability. The move was set to keep over five and a half tonnes of plastic packaging off supermarket shelves.

M&S has taken additional steps in pursuit of more sustainable packaging models in recent years. These include removing ‘best before’ labels from its fruit and vegetable products in favour of a code enabling staff to verify a product’s freshness; and, in 2024, the expansion of its Refilled scheme to reduce plastic packaging in its own-brand cleaning and laundry product lines.

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