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U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

First 'Plastic Free' Label Debuts to Help Shoppers Cut Waste

Even if you try to avoid buying plastics, you might be surprised to find it lurks in many common food and beverage containers, including tin cans, disposable coffee cups and even tea bags.

On Wednesday, however, the environmental group A Plastic Planet debuted the world's first "Plastic Free Trust Mark" to help shoppers know that their products are packaged entirely without the non-biodegradable material, which harms marine life and has entered the larger food chain.


"Now we all know the damage our addiction to plastic has caused, we want to do the right thing and buy plastic-free. But it is harder than you think and a clear no-nonsense label is much needed," said A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland in a statement.

"Our Trust Mark cuts through the confusion of symbols and labels and tells you just one thing—this packaging is plastic-free and therefore guilt-free. Finally shoppers can be part of the solution, not the problem."

According to Packaging Europe, Trust Mark-accredited packaging will include materials such as carton board, wood pulp, glass, metal and certified-compostable biomaterials.

Early adopters of the new stamp include UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods, Dutch grocer Ekoplaza and tea brand teapigs.

Iceland Foods, which pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from its own brand of products by 2023, will sell eggs, cottage pie and vegetable burgers that feature the new "plastic free" label, which the company says will remove more than 600 tonnes of plastic out of circulation annually. Many of its other products are expected to make the switch.

"With the grocery retail sector accounting for more than 40 percent of plastic packaging in the UK, it's high time that Britain's supermarkets came together to take a lead on this issue," said Iceland managing director, Richard Walker, in a statement. "I'm proud to lead a supermarket that is working with A Plastic Planet to realize a plastic-free future for food and drink retail."

Ekoplaza, which launched the world's first plastic-free supermarket aisle in Amsterdam this past February, will roll out the Trust Mark at 74 branches across the Netherlands. It aims to have each store feature the label on selected Ekoplaza brands by the end of the year.

Teapigs co-founder Louise Cheadle said the company is pleased to add the mark to its packaging.

"A lot of tea drinkers have been surprised to learn that many teabags contain plastic," Cheadle said in a statement. "Our tea 'temples' have always been plastic free and our clear inner bags (that keep the tea nice and fresh) are made from Natureflex which looks like plastic but is made from wood pulp. The trust mark will make it easy for consumers to make the right plastic-free choices."

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