Iceland has back-pedalled on its decision to remove all plastic from its shelves by 2023.
Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, admitted the frozen retailers’ plastic packaging pledge was likely impossible but thought it was important to try anyway.
“Our initial pledge was to be plastic-free in own-label by 2023. We won’t get there,” Walker told The Guardian.
“We are trying day and night as hard as we can but it is clear it’s going to be a very, very big ask.
“Lots of things happened: the pandemic, the channel mix to online, which [leads to] more plastic, and the other retailers were a lot slower in coming over to our way of thinking than I thought.”
He added: “I am a hypocrite. The business is not sustainable but we are trying to do good where we can.”
“We are a high-volume, mass-market retailer, full of contradictions. What we are trying to do is use ourselves as a platform to drive a bit of change and share with everyone else, including our competitors.”
Iceland’s boss highlighted major supermarkets “the likes of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and the Riverford organic box” can afford to charge customers more for sustainable products however Iceland customers want greener options to fit their smaller budgets.
“Is sustainability only for the rich? In that case, we are screwed. You have got to make it relatable to everyone, people on a budget, my customers. If you don’t, you can’t scale solutions.”
On the other hand, Walker claimed the grocer’s bid to improve its green credential attracted younger shoppers and workers.