The Collins English Dictionary has named ‘single-use’ as its word of the year – showing again just how much plastic reduction has come to the forefront of people’s minds.

We know that we have a responsibility to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. That’s why in February we set out our plans to use less and recycle more. As part of this, we committed to removing 6,500 tonnes of plastic (10%) from our own-brand packaging within a year, and making all of our own-brand packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.

We also committed to making our head offices and cafes single-use plastic-free. I’m pleased to say that last month we achieved this in our head offices, removing 1.5m individual items of plastic each year.

And as well as this, we’re working alongside Leeds Beckett University to research new materials that can do the same job that plastic does, but without its impact on the environment.

You can read more about our commitments here.

Since our announcement, we’ve been looking product-by-product to see where we can remove unnecessary plastic and have made some great progress. To date, we have removed or are in the process of removing 3,770 tonnes of plastic – over halfway to our target – and made thousands more tonnes recyclable.

Some examples of our work so far include:

  • We’ve moved all our pizza bases from polystyrene to cardboard, saving 194 tonnes of plastic.
  • We’ve started selling ‘naked’ swedes - removing the plastic wrap and saving 14 tonnes.
  • From January, we’re removing cellophane wrap from greetings cards, saving 140 tonnes.
  • Since June, we’ve switched black plastic fruit and vegetable trays to recyclable clear plastic.
  • We now no longer sell 5p single-use plastic carrier bags in our shops
  • We’ve taken plastic straws out of our customer cafes and, from January, will also stop selling them completely in our stores.
  • Our four million Asda magazines are now wrapped in paper rather than plastic

We’ve also committed to reporting on our annual plastic footprint, so that customers can see how we are progressing.

We know we’re only at the start of our journey and have a lot more to do, but we’re changing the way we think about our plastic use across all parts of the Asda business. Hopefully ‘single-use’ will not be the word of 2019 as well.