Plastic-free pilot: Albert Heijn testing fruits and vegetables without packaging

March 26, 2019 – Albert Heijn, which last September announced a goal to reduce packaging material 25% by 2025, is testing fruits and vegetables without plastic wrapping at a store in Hoofddorp in the Netherlands. The test, beginning yesterday and scheduled through April 28, involves over 100 uncooked organic and non-organic products such as carrots, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, celery, oranges, pears, apples and mango.

The aim of the trial – with projected savings of at least 270,000 kilos (about 595,000 pounds) of plastic on an annual basis – is to see how it affects the quality and shelf life of products and how customers react to a fruit and vegetable department where most products do not have plastic packaging. Excluded from the test are potatoes, onions, herbs, convenience items, chilled vegetables and chilled fruit.

Albert Heijn has been working for years on reducing plastic by removing or reducing packaging or using other, more recyclable materials. Examples include replacing convex lids of soft fruit containers with a thin layer, halving the weight of the plastic packaging of fabric softener, removing foil from tea boxes and using thinner caps for water bottles.

"Especially with fruits and vegetables, many customers wonder whether plastic packaging is really necessary,” said Albert Heijn Brand President Marit van Egmond. “We currently use 'dry misting' in more than 150 stores – a refined misting of water that keeps vegetables fresh for longer. We are now going to test whether the combination of 'dry misting' and no plastic packaging will improve the quality and shelf life in such a way that we can start saving on plastic packaging.”

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