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Life in plastic, it's not fantastic

Want to cut back on plastic? Our shiny new Packaging-Free Fruit & Veg Box  won't pack any plastic, paper, or rubber bands, just delicious fruit and veg. You can also now shop no or low plastic here – nifty!

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Reusable boxes, not plastic bags, for 30 years

Since 1988 we’ve pioneered a low plastic approach to life and we’ve used returnable and reusable boxes not plastic bags for 30 years. Our boxes can be reused up to eight times and we recycle them responsibly after that.

It’s very exciting (and about time) that the rest of the world is starting to hum along to the anti-plastic brigade tune. Hang on, I can hear shouts from the back.

“But some of my Abel & Cole food comes in plastic!” Yes, yes it does. We do use a little bit of plastic here and there, when we need to. We’re not plastic-free yet, and it’ll probably take us a while to get there, but we’re working towards it.

Protecting the good stuff

It’s only after considerable deliberation that we let plastic into our boxes. Sometimes it is the best material for keeping food fresh and safe. As you know, some organic food can be more delicate than non-organic because it’s not sprayed or processed in a way that artificially extends its shelf life.

Take spinach. Oh so gorgeous and green and good. If we put it straight into a veg box, it would get strewn around like confetti. Your box would look like a vegetable Jackson Pollock painting when it arrived. Pop it in a paper bag you say? Sadly it’d go mushy more quickly than you can say peas on earth. And some of our veg and fruit needs protection when travelling from A to You.

One small change

Over the years we’ve done a bunch of stuff to reduce the other plastic we use, especially in our fruit and veg boxes. We compared our best-selling organic fruit and veg boxes over a four-week period to the same organic fruit and veg from four supermarkets (Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda). The total weight of plastic in the supermarket deliveries across the four weeks was 268.13g whereas ours was 19g. So our deliveries use 92.86% less plastic compared to the supermarkets.

We do use some plastic to keep food fresh and safe, as we recognise that food waste is a bigger issue to tackle in the climate emergency. Decomposing food not only produces greenhouse gases, it’s also a waste of the resources used to produce it. Keeping carbon emissions as low as possible means we contribute less to global heating, and that is a key consideration for us.

Across our fruit and veg range, only some of our salads, soft fruits, and leafy greens currently need plastic to keep them fresh. We’ve been trialling sustainable alternatives, and are on the cusp of being able to make some really exciting changes.

Everything else either comes loose, or in FSC card or pulp punnets (which are made from recycled paper and card), which are easy to recycle, or in compostable materials. Interesting fact from our research: we found that even when we selected ‘no plastic bags’ at the online checkout, each delivery apart from Asda’s, came in plastic bags.

Say how many million?

It’s fantastic that supermarkets are now doing their bit to dissuade people from using plastic shopping bags. Not all shops offer crates instead of plastic bags for their deliveries, but at least you can return the bags.

This is quite a recent development though and we’re proud to say that one of the biggest impacts we've had over the years, is that we use returnable, reusable and recyclable boxes, not plastic bags for all our deliveries.

We’ve done some bean(bag) counting. Put your stat-hat on and let's have a drum roll, please.

We’ve used boxes not bags since day dot. In just the last 13 years alone we’ve saved about 60,000,000 plastic bags by delivering food in reusable and recyclable card boxes instead.

That’s saying something.

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