Frozen food is naturally less wasteful than fresh food because it has a much longer shelf life minimising waste in stores, supply chain and in customers’ homes. Consumers also cut waste because they can use just as much as they need for each meal and put the rest of the pack back in the freezer for another occasion. Because frozen vegetables are usually peeled, chopped or diced ready for use, Iceland use ‘wonky veg’ and avoid much of the waste caused by the quest for perfect-looking vegetables in fresh displays.
Iceland was the first supermarket retailer to end the use of palm oil as an ingredient in all own-label food. The edible vegetable oil that is extracted from the fruit of oil palm trees is currently found in more than half of the world’s supermarket products, from bread to biscuits and breakfast cereal to soap. The World Wide Fund for Nature highlights that Palm Oil continues to be a major driver of deforestation of some of the world’s most biodiverse forests, destroying the habitat of already endangered species like the Orangutan, Pygmy Elephant and Sumatran Rhino. This forest loss coupled with conversion of carbon rich peat soils are throwing out millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. There also remains some exploitation of workers and child labour. These are serious issues that the whole palm oil sector needs to step up to address which is why Iceland supermarkets led the way in banning the use of Palm Oil in all of its own-label products.
Iceland was also the first UK major retailer to commit to eliminate plastic packaging for all its own-brand products.
Earlier this year, Jersey followed Iceland’s UK stores by introducing trial paper bags. The extra strong bags are can hold up to 16kg. Lighter weight carrier bags and jute bags are also available. Based on current usage and estimated switching rates for the side by side trial, it is anticipated that collectively more than 200,000 plastic carrier bags will be saved by converting to recyclable paper bags.
Humanity is facing a global environmental crisis: the planet is warming, mass extinctions are gathering pace, deforestation is accelerating, and plastic waste is choking the life out of the oceans. Iceland believes that every business has a moral responsibility to take action to address these major sustainability issues; it is also a commercial imperative for any business that hopes to have a future.