Belsize Budgens launching new ‘plastic-free zones’ and 1,800 plastic-free products as supermarket founder pledges to show Tesco and Sainsbury’s how to cut packaging

Plastic-free zones at Budgens in Belsize Village. Picture: Budgens / Higginson

Plastic-free zones at Budgens in Belsize Village. Picture: Budgens / Higginson - Credit: Archant

The war on plastic has been taken up a notch in Belsize Village as Budgens launches a 1,800-product range of items in plastic-free packaging – from bread and cheese to the UK’s first plastic-free bacon.

Actors Jim Broadbent and Dame Janet Suzman marked the roll-out of the new selection today as the Haverstock Hill supermarket became only the second on the planet – it reckons – to offer plastic-free bacon.

Over the past 10 weeks the store’s staff have been working hard to come up with ways of presenting produce without the packaging that has become such a public talking point.

Andrew Thornton, the founder of Thornton’s Budgens, said: “We just thought, because we can do this, we have to.

“We felt we had a responsiblity to lead the way.

“If one shop with our limited resources can do this in just 10 weeks, surely the big supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s can.”

Sian Sutherland of the group A Plastic Planet, which has been working with Budgens, said: “A project like this one is so important as an example of change.

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“At the moment with all the big supermarkets there are lots of words but not a lot of actions.

“It’s about giving the local community the chance to change. We know it’s something people want to do.”

The bacon, along with a range of other meat and fish including squirrel, is now going to be packed using an innovative material made from paper and cellulose.

Plastic fruit netting is gone too, replaced with a new beechwood netting.

Local shopping campaigner Linda Grove told the Ham&High: “We can’t carry in the way we have been doing by using materials that we can’t recycle and destroy our environment. Three cheers for Thornton’s Budgens.”

Andrew said the innovation was not going to result in price increases. He told this newspaper: “There’s no real difference in price, by and large. In many cases we’ve simply ditched packaging.”

Andrew is hoping to double the number of plastic-free products within six months, and wants to be running a wholly plastic-free store by 2021.

He has also pledged to list the products and the new packaging solutions publicly so other shops can follow their lead.